BY R.N. TAYLOR
Apocalypse was in the air; an impending feeling of doom. The multi-colored dreams of psychedelia had begun to fade, and for those of us who had crossed it's rainbow bridge, there would be no turning back. The world as we had known and experienced it would never quite seem the same again.
The prevailing order of things; the sterile dogmas of organized religion; the Protestant work ethic; the open-ended pursuit of material things, these and a host of other similar assumptions, formerly taken for granted with simple- minded acceptance, now came into question, were scrutinized, dissected and exposed for the " frauds" we felt them to be.
But what were these mainstays of our civilization to be replaced with? The music of sixties had served as a simplistic prop for the newly emergent " counter-culture" and it's ill-defined aspirations. But what had gone wrong? We had all sung along with 'All you need is love - love - love,' and joined the chorus
The much lauded creativity and freedom of this counter-culture; from it's hedonistic sex, it's drug induced visions, day-glow posters, tye-dye clothing, massive musical gatherings and a ' do your own thing' philosophy, had run it's meteoric course and had burned itself out.
The early 1970s were to be it's anti-climax, as run-away inflation, growing corruption and cynicism began to penetrate most segments of society.
American boys were still fighting and dying in this nation's second no-win-war in Asia; the secret police by-way of their COINTELPRO operations ( infiltration, agent provocateurs, frames-ups, armed raids and assassinations ) had been successful in rendering any revolutionary activity, right or left, ineffective and null. Tricky-Dick was our chief administrator and about to live-up to his bad name. Psychedelics had begun to be replaced by other addictive drugs such as heroine, morphine, and cocaine. The recording industry was about to experience it's lowest margin of profits in decades. The Psychedelic head-shops began to fold up business. The so-called ' Age of Aquarius' had grinded to a halt, and along with it and entire generation was left floundering in it's confusion and despair.
Into this void came the cults. Ready and eager to fill the existing spiritual vacuum with new visions, new perimeters, new rules and directions. And they were many and they were varied.
Zen Buddhism had already made it's debut in the West in the preceding decade by way of the writings of Suzuki and popular writings of Kerouac and Watts. It was further enhanced by a growing interest in various Oriental martial arts. But it did not have the makings of a mass-style movement, and so remained relatively small in numbers and defused.
But the late sixties and early seventies saw a proliferation of odd sects and cults; Christian salvation groups such as the 'Children Of God' and ' The Jesus People'; Hari-Krishnas and transcendental mediators, Baba Lovers, and other Guru-cults; home-grown psycho-analytical methods such as Scientology and EST, all of which alluded to some sort of rational and scientific methods; long-time dormant fringe sects and elitist occult societies began to revive, expand and attract new adherents.
By the early 1970s a virtual smorgasbord of religious persuasions could be found on the spiritual menu, ready to to be served-up piping-hot for the lost, the lonely and confused.
The guru-cults appealed principally to the burned-out post-hippie remnants, who suffering psychological displacement and a diminished sense of self, wished only to bury their frayed minds and psyches in some balmy cloud of mysticism, thereby loosing themselves in a vision of the aglamorous Godhead.
Conversely, the psychoanalytical cults appealed to that group of youth and young adults with an in-born predilection for entrepreneurship. They were most often the ones who had but recently been small-time drug dealers who " only sold a little to their good friends". They were the ones who wanted all the success and material baubles of the preceding generation, but didn't want to work too hard or wait too long in fulfilling these aspirations. Their personal quest was in pursuit of finding 'sure-fire' methods for realizing these goals of romance, money and social status. The cult leaders of these groups understood the mind-set and aspirations of these types only to well, and knew just how to play these marks for all they were worth. The wheels of their system were to be well oiled with the capital of ambitious, but naive aspirants. Cost for initiate-hood didn't come cheaply. It was measured out in dollars and cents. The aspirant could, however, defray a large portion of these daunting costs by recruiting other fodder for the cult, who would in turn help to make-up the deficit of their own tuitions and costs. All of this was just another variant of the pyramid- scam, a scam that seems to have an almost unflagging and magical appeal to America's middle-class.
These psycho-analytical cults usually worked out of an almost corporate setting. No beards, no bare-feet or other anti-social trappings. Theirs was instead a professional front intended to appeal to and to generate confidence in the eager and ambitious near-do-wells which they attracted.
- 2 - " The Malicious have a dark Happiness." - Victor Hugo
But not all who passed through the proverbial " doors of perception " were of the same disposition. Not all were the jaded children of middle-class affluence, not all lacked a will to power. There were also others of the post-sixties generation whose existence was made less visible in the media or the public eye. This segment of disaffected beings were not thinking the same thoughts or seeing the same visions, nor were they intent upon the same goals as their lost and listless counter-parts were. These were the outsiders. During the preceding decade they had no more upheld the statism and status quo of the conservative-right any more than they had joined in the contagion of the New-Left. These were the metaphysical rebels, Anarchs, Anarchists, occultists and nihilists, who wished a plague on all house!
Their visions were not those of Utopia or Nirvana, but were instead those of Apocalypse and ' End Time.' For them it was not the golden-age of Aquarius, but the dark-age of the Kali-Yuga. Most preferred Buck-knives and revolvers to that of beads and flowers. Initially they were scattered individuals, lacking a leader or an organizational structure, a coherent philosophy or plan of action.
Within the ranks of these disaffected 'outsiders ' were several distinct types best described as Anarcho / individualist and Romantic/Nihilists. Often individuals would share a combination of these basic traits.
The Anarcho / individualists seemed most concerned with their personal liberty and freedoms which might allow them the freedom to ' do their own thing ', unimpeded by restrictive laws imposed by the state. Laws which they felt repressive to their lives and liberty. Theirs was a distrust for authority in particular and a disdain for civilization and it's decadence and complexities in general. Most shared a concern for survival in the not so distant future; nuclear war; revolution; civil or racial strife or domestic tyranny. Most felt by-way of acquired skills and preparations that they would one day crawl out from their survival compounds and retreats as survivors of a new day under the sun. Many of them stock-piled weapons and supplies, trained with firearms and cultivated other military and survival skills and awaited " The Day " of civilizations eminent demise, and it's post-apocalyptic aftermath.
Drawn primarily from urban and rural working class segments of the population, they envisioned a life more basic and less complex. Most viewed the federal government as corrupt and meddling at best. Others believed and proffered conspiratorial theories concerning Mason. Jews, International Bankers or Trilateralist One-Worlders, who they saw as a hidden-hand behind all that was wrong with life as they perceived and experienced it.
Over the next several decades the majority of those of this persuasion would be content to plan, train and prepare. A smaller number would grow impatient and more strident, and move on to more militant, and sometimes revolutionary activity.
The other grouping, the Romantic / Nihilists, would be attracted to the a- morality of occultism, the so-called black arts, and Satanism. This predilection differed little from what many prominent poets, artists and other creative romantics of the previous century had done.
Satanism and occultism have often served as a proverbial loadstone for creative genius, ( i.e.); Charles Baudelaire, J.K. Huysman, William Butler Yeats, August Strindberg, Antonin Artaud, to mention just a few, who have succumbed to it's dark siren call. Reasons for this attraction can be largely found in the diminished or absence of true spirituality in organized religion, as well as a striving for something in closer proximity to the Western Zeitgeist. Add to these factors the sexual and emotional suppression and it is not difficult to understand the allure of such " underground " religion.
One can already detect in the late romantics a growing disposition toward nihilism. Little is left of the soothing melancholia of Keats, or the visionary soaring of Shelley, and it is not difficult to understand why.
If romantics of the past age had felt estrangement and antagonism to the prevailing reality in which they lived, how then might the romantic of this our present age of dialectical materialism and compulsive consumerism react?
The logical outcome of such contraries, of ones inner ideal as opposed to the outer-reality we live in, can hardly lead to anything short of rebellion, world hatred and nihilism. Culminating in an inversion of feelings and thought, in which evil becomes good, power, hatred and resentment supplant faith, hope and charity, and all the attributes of the bourgeois-democratic existence; comfort, conformity, selfishness and cowardice, are viewed with disdain and addressed with invective. This then becomes the world of the outsider and confirmed elitist.
However, this antagonism and elitist mentality manifests itself in rebellion, not revolution. The true revolutionary has a creed and a program that generates and guides his actions. He wishes to catharize the malignancies he perceives, and proceeds to find the tactics and strategies for attaining power. For he realizes that only through the attainment of power will he be able to reshape or revitalize society or the world in accordance with his visions and beliefs.
Satanism, on the contrary, is largely a personal rebellion. It is an anti- theology. Antithetical to the tenets and beliefs of it's antagonist, Christianity. In it's original form, it would not exist save for the existence of Christianity. In this regard it is reactionary to the utmost. It shares similar prophecies and revelations, an identical time table of linear progression of events all culminating in some grand finale of Apocalypse!
The historical roots of Satanism are largely traceable to the later half of the last century. As a theology or philosophy, Satanism does not draw upon any long-standing tradition or ties with antiquity in the same sense as neo- heathen & pagan beliefs do. Prior to the existence of any organized Satanic sects, many hapless individuals no doubt were the victims of being labeled " Satanic " or in league with the Devil, by the ruling Christian establishment. But such accusations should not be taken seriously, for these sort of labels served as all purpose catch-phrases directed to anyone who threatened or challenged Christianity's parochial views or secular power. It was a ready epithet of derision and approbation for one's enemies and competitors.
Most modern-day Satanists know all of this well enough. So why Satanism as an alternative to Christianity? Why not a return to a more natural healthy heathenism, one totally divorced from the framework of Christian thinking? Because the classic Satanist is not a healthy pagan, Nietzsche's proverbial " yea sayer to life ", but is instead an inverted Christian whose innocence has been wounded, whose romanticism has been betrayed; asceticism degraded, saintliness gone sour, idealism made cynicism. It is not difficult to recognize resentment at the root of this metaphysical rebellion. A resentment born of the realization of 'ones" own singularity and rights as an inviolable individual. This same realization is of course at the root of all rebellion as well as revolution. But in the case of the Satanist this rebellion is born of a realization of 'ones' own impotence in doing anything to actively alleviate whatever inequities or injustices which are felt to exist.
Resentment was perhaps best defined by Friedrich Schiller as an auto- intoxication; the evil secretions in a sealed vessel of prolonged impotence. It is resentment of this type which usually leads to the types of excesses witnessed in the French, Bolshevik and National Socialist Revolutions. Schiller goes on to say further, that resentment always turns into either unscrupulous ambition or bitterness, depending on whether it is implanted in a strong person or a weak one.
It is the nature of the resentful to take delight ( in advance ) of the hoped for pain that it would inflict upon the object of it's hatred. Torture and cruelty have always been the violence of the impotent and cowardly.
This impotence is most apparent in the working of curses against one's enemies. It is a safe substitute for really doing anything actively, directly or boldly. To a certain degree it no doubt serves as a purgative or safety valve for this " vessel of sealed resentment and hatred ", which might otherwise manifest itself in destructive or suicidal acts.
And who is it that best personifies this resentful actor who fights his enemies from the make-believe battle-field of his ritual chamber, who arrogantly endeavors to command Gods and fate to to do his bidding an fulfill his desires? It is usually the artistic dandy, that narcissistic play-actor who chooses for his command performance that ultimate of all stages - real life!
To live and die before a mirror - that according to The French Poet Baudelaire, is the slogan of the Dandy, For he can only exist by defiance and opposition. And like all who exist without a measure of standards, lacking rules or ethics, he can only be coherent to himself, as well as to others, in some role he has chosen to act out. And that role can only be played before an audience for which to applaud or decry his performance. For his own existence and sense of being or self, can only be established in the expression on other peoples faces. Others must serve as his mirror, a mirror that quickly grows clouded. Therefore he is constantly compelled to astonish and to shock. Singularity his vocation, excess, his road to perfection.
Prominent in his ranks is to be found that seminal figure of the Satanic, the Marquis de Sade, who has commanded so great an influence upon most subsequent Satanists. If ever there was an archetypal personification of the " vessel of sealed resentment" which Schiller so eloquently described, De Sade was it.
De Sade's epic masturbatory novels may at first seem intended for little more than his own, as well as his readers, sexual titillation. Upon closer inspection, however, one quickly realizes that for every couple of pages of lurid sexual escapades, there are a dozen or more other pages devoted to outlining his Satanic philosophy and invective toward society. It becomes apparent that de Sade's novels are primarily a lure for the reader to be indoctrinated into his nihilism and world hatred.
Even after de Sade, the literati continue to dominate the Satanic scene. The rebellion of the man of letters is singular in it's preference for evil, and forbidden things above all else! When rebellion reaches this junction it is often at the expense of forgetting all positive content. Since God reigns over a world full of death, injustice and inequity, thinks the Satanist, it certainly vindicates, if not the exercise of evil, then certainly the applauding of evil and murder.
It is between Satan and death, in John Milton's Paradise Lost ( That favorite poem of the Romantics ) that symbolizes this struggle. In order to combat the evil of existence, the metaphysical rebel renounces good and once more gives birth to evil. In this way the Satanic hero brings about a religious blending of good and evil. He becomes that most attractive figure ( to the individualistic West ) The fatal hero.
Fate leaves no room for value judgements - it instead replaces any responsibility for them by simply declaring something to the effect of " It is so ", and being so, it becomes a moot point, ethically and morally, thereby excusing everything - everything except of course the creator who from the very start is responsible for the mess that life and the state the world are perceived to be in.
The romantic artist and literati cry-out with Milton's Satan: " So farewell hope, farewell fear, farewell remorse...evil be thou my good." The final cry of outraged innocence. Since violence and injustice are seen as the ultimate root of all creation - violence and injustice shall be it's answer. Ad here at last, once and for all, any distinction between good and evil is laid to rest.
With these moralistic questions resolved and disposed of, no longer can one derive any intellectual, spiritual or emotional stimulation toying with such abstractions as good and evil. Thus is nihilism born out of this psychological vacuum; thus is murder and mayhem authorized as a necessary vehicle for attaining that frenetic state of mind, which alone can alleviate this boredom born of a-morality.
Frenzy is the reverse of boredom. Exquisite sensibilities evoke the fury of the beast! Exaltation takes the place of truth, and so the Apocalypse becomes an absolute value in which all things are confounded: love, death, conscience and culpability. In a chaotic universe no other life exists than that of the abyss.
At this stage the Satanic rebel has by logical extension chosen the metaphysic of inevitable evil. All is drawn toward the void. Terror and torture, murder and catastrophe become collector's items to be savored vicariously and exalted to the status of revolutionary acts in some vague and defuse revolt against society and God. The serial-killer, the sexual outlaw, the mass-murderer and an endless procession and sociopaths and psychotics become cult-heroes and heroines of the Satanic rebel. Until recent times such thinking was restricted to a small segment of isolated individuals, and was employed primarily for the subject matter of art, drama and literature.
But it was to come to pass in these lesser days of the late Twentieth-Century, that a movement would begin to bring this scattered and disparate force into a semblance of order and action.
- 3 - " Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." - Aleister Crowley
The groundwork for the present day Occult / Satanic movement had been laid many decades ago. Though there does not appear to exist anything like an unbroken line of descent, there has been a noticeable and consistent process of cross- fertilization. As Schisms and rivalries occur often ( due, no doubt, to the unstable nature of many of those involved and attracted to Satanism and Occultism in general ) new or existent groups will pick-up the remnants of a dissolving group, and continue on with them till the next schism or power struggle occurs. The links between individual personalities is far more pronounced and apparent.
The late 1930s saw a minor occult revival in the U. S.. This revival was focused primarily in that incubator of the absurd and eccentric, southern California. Madame Blavatsky's Theosophical Society, the Rosicrucians and other similar meta[physical and mystical groups became high profile during this period. Most relevant to modern occultism and Satanism was the founding of the Agape Lodge of The Ordo Templis Orientis ( The Temple Of The East ). The OTO was originally founded sometime between 1895 and 1900, by two high ranking German Freemasons, Karl Kellner and Theodor Ruess. The OTO had formed from the Masonic Rites Of Memphis and the Miraim, which had in turn been founded by one John Yarker. Yarker had authorized the foundation of a German lodge of this Masonic Rite by contact with Kellner, Ruess and one Dr. Franz Hartman. Hartman was a prominent occultist who had started the German Theosophical Society in 1896, and was linked with various neo-Rosicrucian orders.
The official OTO history claimed that's it's Tantric, or sexual magic practices had been given to it's founders by three eastern adepts. Furthermore that these doctrines were the key which opens all the secrets of Freemasonry, as well as all other religions. Kellner died in 1905 leaving the leadership in the hands of Ruess. Within a short time branches of the order were founded outside of Germany in France, England and Scandinavia. What is known about the background of Ruess is almost archetypal of the many personalities who become leaders of such occult societies.
As a young man he was reputed to have worked as a spy for the Prussian Secret Service. He relocated to London where his mission was to spy on socialist German exiles. He became a member of the Socialist League, whose members included Friedrich Engels and Utopian socialist William Morris. He was eventually exposed and forced to resign from the group.
There were also some connections between the OTO and the Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn, whose members included such notables as W.B. Yeats, Macgregor Mathers and other notable personages. One other member of The Golden Dawn was Aleister Crowley, who was to become the OTO leader in England. Crowley however reputedly revealed the inner secrets of the OTO in his writings in ' The Book Of Lies ', which Ruess claimed were coded descriptions of various magico / mystical sexual- rites Crowley replied to Ruess's charges by claiming that the rituals he had described in his book had originated in documents which had once belonged to Adam Weishaupt, founder of the Bavarian Illuminati. Ruess accepted Crowley's defense, and all was apparently forgiven.
Crowley's checkered career has been exhaustively chronicled in many books and articles, as well as by Crowley himself in " The Confessions Of Aleister Crowley ", a 900-plus page volume of vanity, arrogance, exaggeration and Satanic philosophy.
Crowley was given to exploiting weak-willed and troubled individuals for his financial aggrandizement and sexual gratification. His last years were spent in a seedy-English boarding house, and as a victim of a double addiction to heroin and morphine. An odd fate for one who had dubbed himself " The Great Beast 666 " and had entertained aristocratic and elitist pretensions throughout his life. Crowley was however not without talents; as a writer, a mountaineer, a poet and investigator of the arcane - but despite his various aptitudes the totality of his life seemed an ignoble and tragic waste.
The full Chronicle of Crowley is beyond the scope of this article, but sometime after the turn of the century he founded several lodges of the OTO group in the U.S.. Leadership was initially sporadic and changed often. Eventually John Whitesides Parsons, a physical scientist who played a major role in founding the aero-space department at Cal Tech University, was conferred with the leadership of the California OTO lodge.
Eventually, John Whiteside Parsons, a physical scientist who played a major role in founding the Aero-Space Department at Cal-Tech University, was conferred the leadership of the California Lodge of the OTO. Parsons, a native of California, born in 1914, became connected with a fledgling young Sci-Fi writer, L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard moved in with Parsons, eventually absconding with his wife Maggie. L.. Ron, with Maggies complicity used a large portion of Parsons savings account in purchasing a new yacht. Though understandably angered and upset, Parsons somehow forgave them both their transgressions.
Hubbard himself went on to become a fairly successful Sci-Fi writer and eventually founded the psychoanalytical cult know as Scientology. After Crowley's death, California remained the Mecca of his followers activities. Parson continued on with the Agape Lodge until his rather dramatic death in 1952, when he was blown-up in his garage laboratory after accidentally fumbling a case of mercuric fulminate while in the process of hose moving. An interesting side note is that Parsons had a leading role in perfecting the rocket fuel which lead to the first successful lunar landing, and much of the other space exploration of our age. In tribute to his contribution, a lunar crater ( appropriately situated on the dark side of the moon ) was named after him. It can be found approximately at a longitude of 168 degrees, and a latitude of 370 degrees.
Following Parsons abrupt exit, another Crowley stalwart, Karl Germer, became the international head of the OTO, as well as inheriting the copyrights to Crowley's numerous books. Germer was responsible for publishing many of Crowley's out of print and unpublished books. Along with the publishing rights came the inheritance of Crowley's ashes. Eventually leadership of the OTO went to another German national, Herr Metzger.
Another Crowley follower was gerald Gardner, the man most responsible for the modern emergence of Witchcraft or Wicca ( as many of it's present day adherents prefer to call it. Gardner himself had been a fourth-degree initiate of the OTO.
Still another Crowleyan organization ( that was not regarded as orthodox by the official OTO ) was " The Great Brotherhood Of God ", and occult fraternity which owed it's existence to the activities of C.F. Russel, an ex-naval officer who had once resided at Crowley's Thelema Abbey in Cefalu, Italy. This group had originally begun as the Coronzon Club, a society whose advertisements had begun to appear in the occult press as early as the 1930s.
The Choronzon club, named after one of Crowley's devils whom he had invoked in the Algerian desert, changed it's name to the Great Brotherhood of God in the 1930s. They combined a melding of Oto and Golden Dawn rituals, many which were inverted by Russell. Russell was reputed to have been a dabbler in Satanism. Most of the groups teachings and practices were concerned with sexual magik, similar to tantrik practices. Louis T. Culling, a former astrologer and performer on the electric organ published the techniques and practices of he group in two books ' The complete Magik Curriculum of the Secret Order G.B.G." and in ' A manual Of Sex Magik '. Both books had a surprisingly wide sale and influenced other groups and individuals, most them young, who organized under Mr. Culling's leadership, or formed their own groups to study Sex-Magik'. Between 1969 and 1971 the G.B. G. enjoyed a resurgence in activity.
Also during this same period another un-orthodox Crowleyan group became active in the U.S. This was the so-called ' Solar-Lodge of the OTO '. A group led by Georgiana ( jean ) Brayton, the wife of a University of California professor of philosophy. Jean Brayton was born in 1921, and had a long-lasting interest in the occult. At about forty-years old she discovered the writings of Crowley and fell under their influence to such an extent that she began to practice his rituals with a particular fixation upon their darker aspects, which she began to emulate.
The leadership of the Solar-Lodge was apparently eager to gain recruits among the young. In pursuit of that goal they opened ' The Eye Of Horus' bookstore at 947 West Jefferson Boulevard, in close proximity to the university of Southern California campus. It was a small shop, but it's decoration in red and yellow, and it's stylized Egyptian eye in a triangle painted on the outside, attracted a brisk walk-in trade. Some who frequented the store were eventually recruited into the lodge. Before too long the group grew to about fifty members, the majority young and impressionable, but also some older people with respectable professions and jobs. These included Jerry Kay, the art director of the popular cult-film "easy Rider'. and others connected with the arts and entertainment world.
Brayton was reputed to cultivate relationships with dental students, making money off of them through loan-sharking; lending small amounts of cash at exorbitant interest rates and using their easy accessibility to drugs Ed Saunders, former member of the rock band 'The Fugs ' and author of ' The Family' , a book which chronicles the Manson Family and Tate La Bianca murders, claims to have carried out extensive investigation into the activities of the Solar Lodge. Among is alleged charges were the groups use of almost every known form of psychedelic drugs in an effort to expand the consciousness of the initiates. These included marijuana, LSD, demerol, scopolamine, datura, jimson weed, ether and belladonna. Aside from their conscious expanding properties, Brayton allegedly used many of these drugs to gain dominance over them and programming them. Further, for the sake of extracting information for possible blackmail purposes.
The stories of self-mutilation, child abuse, chicken sacrifices, and drug use abound. At one of her properties at 1251 West Thirteenth street in L.A., Charles Manson and his family were reputed to have been frequent visitors.
The lodge also owned a ranch about four miles from the Colorado River where it conducted it's more secret rituals. On June 10th, 1969 a fire broke out on the ranch. This single event was to prove the demise of the Solar Lodge.
The fire was supposedly started by a six year old son of one of the lodges members Beverly Gibbons. In addition to the main building being burned down a number of animals where also burnt alive in the fire, as well as a number of rare Crowley manuscripts. The boy had his finger-tips burnt with matches and was afterwards placed in a wooden crate in the blistering summer sun of 110 degrees.
Two men who had visited the ranch with the intention of purchasing some horses noticed the child lying in the crate, and outraged telephoned the police. Police raided the ranch and eleven of the lodge members were arrested. Further investigation uncovered the body of a man at first believed to have been murdered, but forensic exams conducted later proved he had died from an overdose of drugs, most probably jimson-weed tea imbibed not doubt, during a cult ritual.
By November 1969 all eleven members of the lodge arrested that June were convicted of felony child abuse charges. Warrants were issued for Jean Brayton and several other high-ranking members of the group who had not been present at the ranch. They fled prosecution and were thought to be hiding-out in Mexico where the lodge supposedly owned property.
Crowley's legacy also began to find it's way into popular culture and entertainment as well. In Robert Heinlein's ' Stranger In A Strange Land ' and in other sci-fi and fantasy fiction. The Beatles put his photo among the collage of famous on their 'Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band' ' LP cover, as " one of the people we like ". Jimmy Page, lead guitarist of the popular Led Zeppelin rock-band bought a Scottish manor, Buskin House, where Crowley had once lived, which overlooks the brooding waters of Loch Ness. Page also purchased Crowley's ceremonial robe as well. Much of Led Zepplin's early music was infused with occult and Satanic subject matter. During this same period various rock groups such as H.P. Lovecraft, King Crimson and Funkadelic used music with occult and Satanic subject matter.
Do what thou wilt - is the whole of the law " Crowley's famous adage, found ready acceptance in a growing atmosphere of a-morality and nihilism. The evil Crowley had spent most of his life promoting had begun to bear it's poisoned fruit.
-4- " Lex Talionis " - Anton LaVey
On April 30th ( Wulpurgisnacht - 1966, Anton LaVey, the father of modern Satanism, founded his Church Of Satan in San Francisco, California. The Church of Satan was the outgrowth of a small grouping of friends and students with an interest in the occult and paranormal, who formed around LaVey. Among this group were underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger and novelist Steven Schneck. So, in 1966 LaVey declared the dawn of the Satanic age and set-up shop in his ' Black House ' ( a Victorian building which had formerly been a speakeasy and brothel.) Thus, the church of Satan became a legally incorporated religious organization, with LeVay as it's high priest and his, then, wife, Diane as high priestess.
Through a series of astute public relations moves The Church Of Satan became Internationally known almost overnight. It began to draw celebrity status in the attraction LaVey and his organization seemed to elicit from such show-biz personalities as singer Barbara McNair and Sammy Davis Jr.. Around this time LaVey conferred an honorary priesthood upon actor Keenan Wynn. Most the Hollywood notables, however, wished to keep their affiliations with the Church secret. Buxom blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield felt no such reluctance.
Most of the activities, personalities and the chronicling of events of this period of LaVey's church have been covered adequately in numerous books and articles. Likewise with LaVey's own background as a organist, circus performer and so forth. I will instead attempt to deal with the theology or philosophy of LaVey and his creation.
Many of the early applicants were logically attracted to COS based upon the prospects of sex, naughtiness and an abundance of females in the group. Such however was not the modus operandi of the Church. Aside from the nude woman employed as an altar-piece, all else was in the minds eye of the aspirant.
Not only was The Church Of Satan not a vehicle for personal lusts, LaVey went so far as to state that the ' Devil ' or ' Satan ', was not a literal deity, but merely a symbolic metaphor for that which the Christian religion called sin, and which were in LaVey's estimation, nothing more than the healthy and instinctual urges of mankind.
LaVey's teachings can be more accurately described as philosophic and psychological rather than religious. The outward trappings and rituals can be somewhat misleading, in so much as they are not some simple reversal of Christian practices, as was described earlier in this article in reference to classic Satanism. The Church Of Satan, explains LaVey, was designed to fill the void between religion and psychiatry, meeting man's inherent need to ritualize, while at the same time providing an honest and rational set of beliefs upon which to base one's life. Likewise his basic approach to magik is not really of the Crowleyite vintage. He has never engaged in extravagant claims on a par with Crowley. His is essentially the magic of knowing and awareness. Knowing how to manipulate one's environmental factors by way of analyzing people, places and things; saying the right thing at the right time. Techniques, as it were, for gaining ones material and emotional goals.
Satan in the LaVey philosophy is commensurate with man's primal instincts and urges, rather than in a super-natural sense. It is more a philosophy of Social Darwinism coupled with various dictums of taste in music, cinema, and art.
Throughout the early 1970s LaVey's church continued to grow. By 1973 many Grottoes ( as local chapters were called ) were active in many cities in the U.S. and Canada. Most of those attracted to the Church of Satan were no doubt little different form those attracted to elitist and occult societies in general. For those who find their worth within such groups, it often becomes a surrogate reality that supplants th larger mundane world around them. Achievements become based upon titles and pecking order games and controversies create a rich emotional and social life.. These things in turn set the stage for rivalries, animosities and schisms with the larger body or group. Lavey's Church of Satan was to be no exception to this human all too human factor.
Two former Detroit Michigan members, Michael Grumbowski and John Amend founded two splinter groups out of the Church of Satan. The Order of the Black Ram ( OBR ) and The Shrine Of The Little Mother. Both endeavored to combine Satanism with quasi-mystical ideas of Aryan racial superiority. The " Shrine " took a more radical departure from it's parent groups doctrines. They employed sacrifices of chickens as a part of their rituals. It is alleged that the late James Madole, founder and leader of the neo-fascist National Renaissance Party attempted to establish ties with the OBR. He also used Church Of satan materials in his occult study units adjacent to his political objectives.
Other politically extreme rightists have seen an ally in LaVey and his Church. LaVey however has distanced himself from most of them and blunted their advances with sarcasm and invective for the most part.
Other schisms have occurred over the years, but few of them have had much longevity. One of the few exceptions has been that of the temple of Set founded and led by Michael Aquino and his wife Lillith Sinclair.
After returning from military duty in Vietnam in 1971, Aquino was ordained into the priesthood of the Church of Satan. Aquino first met LaVey while attending one of LaVey's lectures. He was a U.S. Army intelligence officer specializing in psychological warfare. Shortly after encountering LaVey he and his first wife both joined the Church Of Satan. He organized a Grotto in Kentucky, where he was stationed at the time. He proceeded to give lectures on Satanism at the University of Louisville and eventually built up his group to about a dozen followers who regularly attended rituals at his home.
Being a prolific writer, Aquino became a major contributor to the church's official publication of the time, The Cloven Hoof. LaVey was obviously so impressed with Aquino that he promoted him to the rank of Magister IV, one rank below LaVey himself. LaVey commissioned Aquino to author a series of rituals based on the works of horror story writer H.P. Lovecraft. Traditionalist elements criticized these and other rituals invoking gods that did not exist. LaVey countered this by saying that " The purpose of ritual is to invoke emotion. Because there are virtually no satanic rites over one- hundred years old that elicit sufficient response from today's practitioners, if the rites are presented in their original form. LaVey stated further that these critics had missed the point" All gods are fictitious."
Other rituals with similar t sources of inspiration were authored by La Vey from H.G. Wells " The Island Of Dr. Moreau " and Fritz Lang's "
Metropolis. "But, in the final analysis, this is not Satanism in the classic Miltonian or Biblical sense, it is instead performance art, intended to create an atmosphere or to entertain. Add to this LaVey's essentially Libertarian philosophy and we are left with something like Aynn Rand's Virtue of Selfishness clothed in Gothic costumes and stage props. LaVey continues to be a personality of sorts doing occasional interviews articles and recordings. Perhaps his greatest significance has been in the overall effect his writings and pronouncements have had upon more independent and obscure individuals and groups who have borrowed from him in organizing their own thoughts and activities.
By 1972, a personal and philosophical rift had occurred between LaVey and his understudy Michael Aquino.
On the eve of the North Solstice, June 21st, 1975, Aquino performed a " magical working " and claimed that Satan appeared to him in the guise of Set, the oryx-headed god of death and destruction, of which Aquino claims is the earliest manifestation of the Christian devil, dating back to 3400 B,C.E..
The outcome, of course, was a document " The Book Of The Coming Forth By Night ", in which Set, according to Aquino, declared " The Aeon Of Set ". The beginning of this Aeon is then traced to 1904, when Set appeared to Aleister Crowley in Cairo, Egypt, in the image of his guardian angel, Aiwass, who declared Crowley the herald of the dawning of the age of Horus. LaVey, according to Aquino, ushered in the the age of Satan, which was but an intermediate stage symbolizing indulgence and was for the purpose of preparing the way for the Aeon of Set, which would become a age of enlightenment.
In true megalomaniac fashion, Aquino was anointed worldwide leader for the new age, as well as being consecrated by Set, as the second incarnation of the Beast 666 ( as prophesized by Crowley in The Book Of The Law).
Aquino accepted this heavy burden from the God ( obviously feeling it was an offer he couldn't refuse.) As a token of his intentions he cut his hair into a widows peak, plucked out his eye-brows and had the numerals 666 tattooed under his scalp An inverted pentagram ( originally a Pythagorean symbol for Phi or the golden ratio ) became the groups symbol. Grottoes became Pylons and degrees similar to the Golden Dawn were adopted. Aquino became Ipssimus, and Lilith Sinclair became Magus. A committee of nine composed of former Church Of Satan Priests was given the power of administrative affairs. The primary difference between The temple of set and The Church Of Satan, was that Set, or Satan, was believed in as a literal reality. Absent from this new world leader was any taint of humor. Aquino's adventures in wonderland had begun.
Aquino and the Temple of Set mark a new shift in emphasis in Satanic theology. The appropriation of a deity completely divorced from the Judeo-Christian complex. Instead of the classic Devil or Satan we are now introduced to the Egyptian God of the underworld, Set. others, in time, would appropriate the dark deities of other mythos. For many Loki, the trickster of the Norse pantheon has supplanted Satan. This is of course a further move away from the Biblical "bad guy " Satan. And Ragnorok elbows out the Apocalypse. At this stage the lines between Teutonic tribal religion and Satanism begin to blur. But this is neither the Satan of the Bible or Milton' Paradise Lost. This is no longer the Satan of the French Decadents, which we discussed and dissected earlier in this article.
But there was one group that did fulfill all the attributes of a true Satanic metaphysical rebellion. It was largely independent of these other groups, and it did formulate a truly Satanic theology coupled with a true apocalyptical vision. It was The Process, Church Of The Final Judgement. It is within the corpus of their beliefs that we must look to find a true compounding and melding of Christian / Satanic theology.
Article first appeared in EsoTerra #6, 1996
THE PROCESS: THE FINAL JUDGMENT
By R. N. Taylor
-Birth of an Urban Legend-
“AS IT IS – SO BE IT”
(Processean greeting and salutation)
There is little doubt that The Process: Church of the Final Judgment has left an indelible watermark upon the pop-culture mindscape of the past three decades. To a large extent this mystique has been predicated by the even greater interest generated by the Manson Family saga and the ongoing mythos of Helter Skelter.
The late ‘60s and ‘70s saw an amazing array of strange and exotic cults. The Process was in fact just one lesser cult among many. It never reached what could be described as a mass stage in its existence or development. Its initiates probably never numbered more than several hundred visible adherents. Its initial incarnation was, even by occult movement standards, a brief and seemingly uneventful sojourn into the mystical. Yet despite these cultic inadequacies, it alone continues to stir up controversy and intense interest among many of today’s underground or alternative culture magazines, journalistic researchers, commentators, musical bands and sociologists.
The Process has been epitomized by some as a cult that never quite made it, and characterized by more sensationalized accounts as being the seed of some vast Satanic underground network dealing in murder, mayhem and arson. In the final analysis, we are at the mercy of these radically opposed and polarized versions. Generally speaking, the truth usually lies somewhere in-between.
Though much has been hinted or alluded to, most of that which has appeared in books, magazines and other mediums has simply been presented in spasms of regurgitated information gleaned from the same Process magazines, pamphlets and books that somehow survived the vestiges of nearly three decades.
As for the hard facts and insider information, very few new insights concerning the group have surfaced. No known leaders or members of the organization have come forth to tell their stories, or if they have, their identities have always been withheld by authors claiming such. Yet despite this paucity of hard facts or trustworthy testimony, The Process has become a never-ending story that keeps growing in true urban legend style.
We have the brief mentions of The Process that appear in Vincent Bugliosi’s best seller Helter Skelter (read the book, see the movie) and Ed Sanders’ The Family (for which there once was an entire chapter on The Process that was deleted after The Process took legal action).
Maury Terry’s long journalistic tome, The Ultimate Evil, contains a chapter on the group, but he never quite makes the case of its connection to all the heinous serial killings, executions, blood drinking rituals, dope dealings, prostitution rings and snuff movies. His rather convoluted account attempts to connect everything from the Manson family to David Berkowitz (the “Son of Sam” murderer) and a plethora of other high profile crimes against society stretching across several decades. It is an intriguing book that is guaranteed to keep you looking over your shoulder, but lacking any real evidence or substantiation.
Some earlier as well as subsequent books have touched upon the subject of The Process, such as Painted Black by Carl A. Raschke. His book touches upon The Process but fails to say anything new or insightful. The rest of his book is an attempt to paint a picture alleging a widespread and active Satanic underground. It has the same smell as a Geraldo television special in its sweeping cheap journalistic gimmickry. His chapters titled “The Aesthetics of Terror” and “The Strange World of Michael Aquino” are about as good as it gets - and then, only because of those whom he has taken the liberty to quote at length, such as Adam Parfrey and Aquino.
Satan’s Power by William Bainbridge is a sociologist’s view of the group, shrouded in pseudonyms (to protect, if not the innocent, at least the author and publisher from legal suits, or more likely as a pre-agreement made in order to solicit the aid of his informants). It has the style and format of a casebook type treatment and deals primarily with the social dynamics of the group simply as a cult phenomenon. It was not intended s a sensationalist inquiry and there are no wild allegations or accusations. It is scholarly and sober. Best of all, it is written by an author who wrote it purely from the academic standpoint of one who did, in fact, have close contacts with the cult and access to private and unpublished papers, as well as contact and correspondence with one of the two Process founders, Robert De Grimston.
1987 saw the publication of Apocalypse Culture, an anthology of articles and various writings that more than adequately encapsulated the Fin de Siecle atmosphere and madness of these lesser days of the later 20th century. Adam Parfrey edited the book and was a major contribution to it. Among the various inclusions in the book was a brief chapter titled “The Time of the End Is Now: Texts from The Process”. It consisted of strident but articulate quotations that had been extracted from various Process publications. This was a contribution of that inveterate archeologist of arcane quotations, Boyd Rice. Though brief in scope, the quotes were powerful polemical condemnations of humanity and society at large. Thoughts out of context were guaranteed to coincide with the overall Apocalyptic themes presented in the book, as well as obviously articulating Rice’s own Social Darwinist and Nihilistic perceptions and predilections.
I had been in touch with Adam Parfrey for a number of years previous to the publication of Apocalypse Culture. We had briefly spoken by phone and corresponded through the mail. The Manson saga and The Process had been discussed between us. I had some Process literature still in my possession and sent Adam my copy of the so-called “Death Issue” and xeroxed several of the Process texts I still had. I had described my own encounters with the group back in the early ‘70s and he suggested that I write a chapter for inclusion in a second revised edition of Apocalypse Culture, which he was then organizing and planning to publish. This was a period in which I found myself in the technological netherworld of having a typewriter that didn’t perform properly, so I ended up writing the chapter in long-hand on lined paper. The fact that Adam was able to decipher my scrawl and make the necessary editorial changes and fine-tuning certainly spoke well of his editorial skills. The chapter appeared under the title of “The Process: A Personal Reminiscence”. It basically covered my own experiences in meeting with and participating with certain Process personalities in Chicago in the early ‘70s as well as my impressions of them, their doctrines and the times surrounding it all. Writing that chapter was like going back in a time-machine to another day and place far removed from my present one. It was simply a First Person account from a subjective perspective; I never intended it to be definitive or all-inclusive. At the time I thought that little would come of what I wrote. I was mistaken.
There were many others out there who also had a fascination with the subject. John Aes-Nihil, a collector and archivist of taboo subjects and cast-away cultural memorabilia, had begun to build up his Archives of Aesthetic Nihilism. The Process figured large in his collection. Much of that material and subsequent items were offered for sale in John’s catalog. John and I shared thoughts and materials for several years; this enriched both of our collections and knowledge on the subject.
I began to occasionally receive letters from people who had read the chapter in Apocalypse Culture and even a number of persons who visited me personally to ask questions about it all. There seemed to be a continuing interest in the subject – something about the enigmatic nature of The Process seemed to appeal to the Sherlock Holmes in many. Others from whom I heard (world-haters, nihilists, Satanists) seemed to harbor the wish or hope that some sinister death-cult wreaking havoc against society with near absolute impunity was out there doing their thing and thumbing their noses at the powers that be and the establishment.
Other articles and books touching upon The Process began to appear with persistent frequency. The urban legend had been born and began to grow and invade the psyche of the underground culture. Veiled references and innuendos began to appear in music and cultural venues. Several music groups attempted to play off its growing popularity and image.
Rants and Incendiary Tracts: Voices of Desperate Illumination 1558 to Present, co-edited by Adam Parfrey, were somewhat similar to his Apocalypse Culture. Incendiary Tracts contained a chapter titled “Fear” that was extracted from the Process magazine issue of the same name. Nikolas Schreck supposedly interviewed De Grimston in the late ‘80s and this was reported to be included in a book called The Demonic Revolution.
The English journal Rapid Eye has had something of an affixation with the subject of The Process and related matters. Rapid Eye #3 featured Stephen Sennett’s “Game of the Gods: An Introduction to The Process”. Sennett began researching The Process many years before Rapid Eye was first published. Originally, he wrote a short booklet titled The Process that was issued by Nox Press in a limited edition in October 1989. Sennett’s piece is neither sensational nor academic in nature. It is an honest attempt to theorize exactly what The Process was all about.
Many other books on the Manson family and Satanism contain brief mentions of The Process as well (the majority borrowing heavily upon Sanders’, Bugliosi’s and Terry’s books to compensate for their lack of originality with more lurid pronouncements).
Numerous articles relating to and about The Process have become a mainstay in both mainstream and underground magazines. An article appeared in Alternative Press entitled “Fear is the Mind of the Killer: Secrets of The Process Church” by Anne Kugler. This article attempts to chronicle Process influences in contemporary rock music and includes bands such as Skinny Puppy and Genesis P-Orridge of Psychic Television.
Despite this plethora of commentary in the form of books, articles and mimicry, we are left with little more facts or hard evidence than we had twenty-odd years ago when the phenomena called The Process came to public attention. Perhaps it is time that we lay all the known facts, insinuations, rumors and accusations out on the table before us so we might seriously consider them, dissect, analyze and perhaps pose the questions that have never before been raised. To do this, we must start at the source, with the known facts, and then branch out into other areas more rife for speculation.
THE KNOWN HISTORY OF THE PROCESS
“CONTACT IS CONTROL”
In the beginning was Robert De Grimston Moore and Mary Ann MacLean: Two individuals from very different situations in life, or so the given biographies seem to indicate.
Robert Sylvester Moore (his actual given name) was born in Shanghai, China on August 10, 1935. He returned to England with his mother before he was a year old. He was the son of an engineer and the grandson of a Member of Parliament and an Anglican Vicar. Various other relatives achieved success in a variety of fields. His upbringing was a fairly conventional middle-class affair, content and uneventful. Robert was the second of four children. In addition to an older sister and two younger brothers, he enjoyed the proximity of many relatives – a number of them fairly well connected. One great uncle was an Earl, and the family was of the untitled blood-line of the English aristocracy.
Robert’s sister married and moved to Canada where she operated an equestrian academy. His two brothers became professional cultists (one joining The Process after it had been founded and the other allegedly becoming a Scientologist).
Robert received strict Christian training at an exclusive Anglican private school. Upon completion, he was offered admittance to a leading university to study toward an engineering degree, but he decided instead to join the military.
In 1954, he began training for the elite Lifeguards Display Calvary Unit and then transferred to the more active 15th – 19th King’s Royal Hussars. He was stationed for six months with the Hussars in Malaysia, where the British were successfully fighting a communist insurgent movement in the jungle. He was eventually transferred back to England where he completed his military service as an officer in a transport unit in 1958.
Robert’s elite cavalry experience served as excellent training and helped him develop an aristocratic poise and bearing – something that would serve him well later as founder and prophet of the cult.
After the military service, Robert spent the next three years studying at an architectural institute. He completed the training necessary for his intermediate certificate but did not go the full five years to get an architectural license. He learned the basic principles of design and geometry, which served him well in designing various cult symbols. This same architectural training was transferable in designing doctrinal structures in an archaic diction and mode. It is the logical, repetitive manner of building one’s theorems one brick at a time.
His first marriage did not last, though he fathered several daughters during its duration. By 1962 he was divorced and ready for a major change in his life.
Mary Ann MacLean’s background was the flip-side of Robert’s. She was the illegitimate daughter of an impoverished Scottish woman in Glasgow, that bustling Scottish city replete with slums, high crime rates and poverty. She was born on November 10, 1931 and was raised by a succession of relatives. Essentially, she grew up on her own wits. She was poorly treated as a child and quickly learned how to survive. She is reputed to have served time in a reformatory. Mary Ann boasted that she came from the wretched Gorbals section of Glasgow and never had a single day of formal education. From her own accounts, the only person to ever show her any love or respect in those years was an older man who died of exposure sleeping off a drunk behind a warehouse. He had vainly wrapped himself in newspapers against the cold.
Whatever Mary Ann lacked in formal education, she more than made up for in street sense. In time she would learn well the skills of giving men what they desired, at her price, and eventually rose to become the favorite companion of a number of prominent Londoners. Among her conquests were a famous actor and a world-renowned comedian. At one time she entered the United States, where she managed to meet former boxing champion Sugar Ray Robinson and became engaged to him. The relationship ended, however, and she returned to England where she worked as a dance hall hostess.
At a house in London, she became romantically involved with a number of prominent British citizens during the John Profumo – Christine Keeler prostitution scandal that rocked the British government to its foundations in the early 1960s. One of the people linked to the case was Dr. Stephen Ward, an occult adept. Ward died of what was described as an apparent suicide. Most of the evidence and facts of the case were kept under a twenty-five-year national security censorship. This was ostensibly to protect certain high-ranking politicians and intelligence people. Several years ago, the official suppression on information concerning the case was up, but only a part of the official files were released. The rest were kept secret by government fiat.
It was during this period that Mary Ann MacLean and Robert Moore met while immersed in mental exercises at London’s Hubbard Institute of Scientology.
Robert, in an autobiographical sketch written in New Orleans in the summer of 1974, gives this apocryphal account of their first quasi-encounter:
“Piccadilly, London, England, 1960: Around midnight, maybe later, I wanted to cross over to Green Park, so I found a pedestrian crossing. There wasn’t much traffic. I stepped off the curb onto the street, assumed serenity of black and white lines. The law says that a vehicle must stop for a pedestrian who has already placed his foot on the sacred black lines. But the voice of the law is no guarantee whatever, particularly around midnight in Piccadilly.
“I can’t remember how far I was across, or even which way I glanced by some irrelevant whim. I could say ‘sixth sense’ but I prefer ‘irrelevant whim’. It’s more in character. Anyway, I did glance and there was this car speeding towards me. I saw no driver – only a gleaming shiny monster that seemed to be inflating at an enormous rate. In fact that was an optical illusion. It got closer, which made it seem to get larger. That had occurred to you, of course. It’s amazing how quickly the mind works in an emergency. Mine is no exception. The difference is that mine produces about a dozen totally irrelevant considerations within the space of two seconds, and usually fails to grasp the real requirements of the situation until it’s almost too late. I say ‘almost’ because even on this occasion I did eventually make the appropriate move, but not before I had thought such things as: ‘I wonder why the glass on the car head lamps has lines in it’ and ‘I think that car was made in Germany. The Germans make the best cars in the world’ and ‘I could do a lot of damage to the fender of this car.’
“Then I did see the driver; a woman, young, handsome, angry, with red hair – I jumped backwards. The woman drove past without turning her head.
“Now was it coincidence that I jumped after noticing the driver? Or was it that the car I was willing to meet head-on and take my chances, but not the angry red-haired woman?
“Was it simply that my irrelevancies had run out and it was time for action? Or was it that the woman was a challenge that I didn’t feel ready to meet right then? It probably doesn’t matter. But the whole situation was undoubtedly significant, if it happened at all, because that was Mary Ann.
“Who Mary Ann is doesn’t matter very much. But what she is, that’s a question that deserves an answer. What’s Mary Ann: She’s unforgettable. When you meet her, whether you like her or not, you don’t forget her. Her personality is something like a thunderstorm, a heat wave and a blizzard all rolled into one. You can’t pin her down and it’s a mistake to try. She has too many facets to be categorizable. Most people finally – or immediately – settle on one of them for security and live to regret it. But to relate to Mary Ann, you have to remain ambivalent, because she does. You have to keep your options open; don’t settle for one emotional attitude and try to solidify it. Allow the full range, because she does. And don’t be mystified by your own ambivalence toward her. It’s inevitable, because in answer to the question ‘What is Mary Ann’, I could validly and truthfully list every human characteristic imaginable, both positive and negative, and everyone would answer the question. Living with Mary Ann is like living with the whole human race.
“Well, that incident in Piccadilly wasn’t what you’d call a meeting – more on, a non-encounter. We passed in the night, as it were, like those proverbial ships. She was a motor torpedo boat and I was the row boat. I suppose that’s what they call Karma. And nobody quarrels with Karma and gets away with it, so I wasn’t complaining. After all, being drenched by the bow wave is nothing when you might have been cut in two by the bow.”
De Grimston goes on to describe their different tastes in music and their mutual interests. Mary Anne was very much into spiritualism, astrology and the occult. Robert knew little about such things but she easily got him interested in it all, being a person with the faculty to generate enthusiasm in others in relation to their own interests.
Robert goes on to say that the closest knowledge or approximate interests he had were in the fields of religion and philosophy. Their common interest above all was that they both had a lively interest in the workings of the human mind. Robert’s interests were mostly abstract and subjective; Mary Ann’s interest was more that of a practical psychologist looking for a handle on others so they might be successfully manipulated by her. For Mary Ann, life had always been a contest of survival. There had always been an opponent and enemy or potential enemy. She was a player in the game of life – a player who intended to win, a gambler at life for which no challenge was too great, no odds too long. For her, studying the human mind was simply a great enterprise, another challenge to be beaten, and she approached it with zest and strategy.
Conversely, for Robert, with his methodical, multi-level and digressive intellect, the mind was a labyrinth, a torturous maze of ambiguities, anomalies and incomprehensibilities that could lead one back one of three ways: In a complex circle back to where one began, deep into a chasm of futility and despair, or to freedom and transcendence. But wherever it may have led, the mind itself remained. Surely there was something within it, an opening, an answer, perhaps at the very center where all could be resolved and explained.
Nothing in Robert’s Anglican religious upbringing had equipped him for his quest. As he wrote:
“Religion was simple. You swallowed the story, shelved the mysticism, reserved judgment on the doctrine, partook with dignity but no emotion in the ritual, adhered to the accepted moral code, and behaved at all times like a gentleman. It wasn’t that questions were not to be asked; it was more like there were no questions to be asked. What’s to question?”
The overwhelming impression Robert got as to what religion was all about was that religion was there to prevent sex. The two were irrevocably incompatible. This was the polarity between religion and sex. You couldn’t have one with the other, so for Robert, the mind had no such dichotomy with religion. Religion had not erected a barricade to studying the mind, so with Mary Ann began their joint study of the human mind.
Robert read psychology but felt he did not absorb most of it. Mary Ann, on the contrary, was an observer with a probing eye. She was very adept at analyzing gestures, modes of dress, facial expressions, verbal expressions, every outward manifestation of inner motivation. Her observations, as Robert attests, were “poignant and accurate, her judgments were sharp and severe, her conclusions uncompromising and seldom favorable. This kind of vision was her primary weapon in the mind game. Her aim was to know more about people than they knew about themselves. That gave her the advantage and it ensured victory in the event of a contest.”
The common ground they both shared was that she was after success and victory and he was after knowledge and discovery. They both believed it was within the mind that they would each find what they sought.
There was a psychologist, a disciple of Freud, Alfred Adler, whose theories appealed to them both. Alder’s approach was a compulsive goal theory. He believed that every human being was in pursuit of something. These were not conscious goals or ambitions, but unconscious motive forces that drove an individual’s actions. Both Robert and Mary Ann believed that these unconscious goals be brought to the surface in the conscious self so as to relieve tensions, pressures, conflicts, and the sense of failure to which every person is in some way subject.
Both independently became interested in the theories of L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard had taken the investigation of the mind from the esoteric adjunct of conventional medicine and framed it in a popular scientific manner. He had written copiously on most every facet of the human psyche. Unlike Adler’s theories on compulsive behavior, Hubbard had devised a method for relieving one of such pressures through a precise and practical therapy.
So Robert and Mary Ann took Scientology’s course, became acquainted with others in the organization and advanced to a level of “clear”, a status which implied they had vanquished their own compulsive behavior and could now go on to helping others vanquish theirs.
They did this work for some six weeks at the institute. It was during this period of 1963 that Robert and Mary Ann really began to know one another on a deeper level. Robert, in his autobiographical sketch, waxes and rhapsodizes on this period:
“During the last few weeks of our training with Scientology, Mary Ann had been my therapist and transference took place which probably never dissolved until we separated eleven years later. Initially I hadn’t liked Mary Ann. Her brash exterior and her general air of supreme confidence had offended me and probably threatened my masculinity. But needless to say, I’d been impressed by her. From the time that she began to be my therapist, however, I became obsessed with her, fixated on her. I felt the warmth that had been hidden behind the arrogant façade. I saw the gentle delicate femininity that had been covered by a cloak of masculine aggression. I saw humor, I saw vulnerability and uncertainty, I saw beauty and a touching self-consciousness. I’d found real contact, perhaps for the first time in my life, and I was in love.”
Robert goes on to tell of the quiet hours they spent together in these sessions facing one another across a small table: She the therapist, he the patient. A great warmth grew between them, a relationship throughout which Robert remained obsessed with her. Mary Ann, on the other hand, felt at ease with this growing dependency she perceived in Robert. This was nothing new to her as a woman of the world. This was, however, predicated upon the submitting to her will, desires and interests. As soon as Robert’s own individuality broke through this submission some eleven years later, disaster and separation would occur. This was insightfully summed up by him in the following passage from the sketch:
“This may sound like ruthless egotism, and maybe that’s a way of describing it, but if so, it’s a crude and inadequate way. Mary Ann is an extremely able person with a psychic strength and confidence that I’ve not seen equaled. For those who submit to her will and continue to do so, she provides enormous security. She makes their decisions for them (once they’ve made their moral decision to submit) and gives them a black and white code to live by, supports them in pressure situations, rescues them from disasters, encourages them, gives them purpose, direction, protection, and consolation when they need it. The only thing she takes from them is their individuality.”
Robert self-analyzed that he had always sought God within but never was able to find him. In a sense, Mary had become something of a surrogate God figure to him, at least initially. He also wanted Mary Ann herself, and as a result, he was willing to play along on this level with her.
Apparently, Mary Ann was thought highly of by the Scientologist staff as she was offered almost any high-level position in the group that she wanted, but she turned these offers down. Most of the therapists followed the rules laid down by the organization for their procedures of therapy. Robert did so initially, resisting the temptations to branch out into other possibilities. Mary Ann, however, followed her own leads, made evaluations independently. She seemed in complete control of what she was doing at all times. At some time, Mary Ann discovered that the room in which she worked was being bugged. She was furious but coldly methodical when she went to the director’s office and objected. Here is a portrait of Mary Ann’s basic tactics and methods when dealing with others as told once again by Robert:
“There’s a psychological strategy behind all of this, needless to say. I’ve never been quite sure how conscious it is with her, but I suspect not very. She knows she plays games around people, but I think part of the effectiveness of the games actually depends on her not knowing quite what they are. One example is to make someone feel tremendously good. That draws him in. Then she makes him feel equally bad. That drives him down, but not away. He remembers how good she made him feel. Then she lays down conditions whereby he will be made to feel good again. When he fulfills the conditions, she fulfills her promises. It sounds crude when stated so boldly, but the subtlety to which it’s put into operation is an inspiration to watch and both sides end up satisfied. Every dogmatic religion in history has operated by this method in order to keep its following in line: The whip followed by the carrot, followed by the whip, followed by the carrot, with precise requirements stated or implied to point the direction. It’s an ancient and tried technique that goes back to the Garden of Eden, and Mary Ann was a master of it.”
All of this technique, of course, is predicated on the power of suggestion, and this, too, was her ability. She had the analytical insight to know what would make a given person act in accordance to her wishes – to know which whip to employ and which carrot to offer as reward.
Both Robert and Mary Ann discovered the e-meters used by Scientologists in their work. They felt they could be interesting to try and found that they were. The e-meter is a simple whetstone bridge device that is highly sensitive to every minute change in skin resistance. Normal models are constructed so that electrodes are tied around two fingers of one hand and when the subject thinks of something emotionally important (consciously or unconsciously), the needle on the dial reacts dramatically.
They found the meter to be useful. It gave indication of when the subject was thinking of some meaningful area to investigate further. It served as a Geiger counter for divining and rooting out problem areas in the subject. Later, the DeGrimstons would use a similar meter in their Compulsion Analysis Group.
Robert, after his separation from his wife, was living with his parents. He was a short distance from Mary Ann’s apartment, above a shop on Kensington Church Street, and began spending most of his time with her there. During this period, the relationship changed from obsession to simply being in love with her.
He was still legally married but separated for all intents and purposes. For Mary Ann, the very fact that he had had another woman was cause for consternation with Robert. Mary Ann did her best to imbue Robert with a sense of guilt and wrong doing. She saw him as having wedged his way into her confidence under false pretenses. Robert balked at this reality that she attempted to impose on him. The fact that Robert never surrendered his will or individuality to her was the seed of future problems that would arise between them. He had kept his own personality despite her attempts to make him adopt her realities.
She attempted to break off the relationship at one point, but Robert’s will prevailed. Eventually she relented and they remained together, but her disapproval of him became a constant test of his resolve and love for her. No matter how much emotional pain she had visited upon him, as soon as it was gone, it was forgotten. All that seemed to matter was the joy of being with her and the magic she exuded.
Reading over Robert’s account, one is left with a feeling that Mary Ann’s love for Robert was of an all-consuming nature. Hers was a desire to completely own Robert on every level, to ferret out his deepest self and his own very soul. Though he admits at times to nearly capitulating to her domination, somehow he retained his own sense of self.
Besides these personal emotional struggles, there was also the work they were doing together in the area of discovering the secrets of the mind. From Adler they had taken the theory, and from Hubbard the technique. They felt the key was to help individuals to know themselves in terms of their chronic compulsions that are the motivating force behind their desires and actions, but how to proceed on this basis was still something that they had not altogether found the method or means for.
They quit the Scientology group with good will on both sides and moved on toward their own approach. They got together with four other persons who were also working on the theory of goals and using Hubbard’s machine to track them down.
An old friend of Mary Ann’s, an attorney, became their inspiration and financial backer. He dabbled in metaphysics, psychology and parapsychology. His goal was instant and total illumination, so he backed the group so as to work out some of his own ideas.
The group of six began to pick each other’s brains as the attorney friend waited on the sidelines for results, but nothing was forthcoming - only a depressing futility set in among the group. Robert described this period in his sketch:
“There’s an old saying that says: ‘It has to get worse before it gets better.’ It sounds trite, and when put to the test, I think very few people believe it. But in fact it has a profound significance which should never be forgotten. There’s a Process Precept which makes the same point, though perhaps more dramatically – or more pretentiously, depending on how you stand in relation to the Process! The only road to life passes through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Well, we didn’t know that in those days, but what we did know was that you don’t give up because the going gets tough. Even Scientology subscribed to the aim that the way out is the way through, and we were in full agreement with them on that score.”
The foursome who had joined them decided to move on to safer ground as conflicts began to occur in dramatic ways between them until they all went their separate ways. These conflicts poured into the lives of Mary Ann and Robert as well, who seemed to be at opposite polarities from one another on most issues. In the end, they decided that they had a theory that seemed to work. How it worked they were not sure, but that it worked they felt confident. That was good enough for them.
One thing they never examined was the sheer power of suggestion. Later they were to decide that it permeates everything, that it cannot be avoided, that none of us are entirely free of its influence, and that they, too, were no doubt influenced by it in their course of beliefs.
At any rate, they jumped into action. Mary Ann was the real driving force. Robert was the intellect. She had the certainty; he had the answers and justifications. She had the eye for openings; he had the means to navigate it. She knew the move to make and he knew how to execute the move. Without her, he would have been uncertain to plunge ahead, and without him, she would have been too ill-equipped, but between the two of them, they had the essential elements and it was no time before they were back in business.
They rented an apartment on Wimpole Street in London. In order to meet the expenses of the rent, they leased two of the rooms to borders. The other two rooms were used for their intensive therapy of their clients’ compulsive motivations.
Bernard, the attorney friend of Mary Ann, was their first client. Another was Jerry Cohen from the east end of London: A sharp and polished individual who signed up for six sessions with Mary Ann, with whom he was obviously quite infatuated with. He was the first to finish the six sessions and quickly signed up for six more.
Robert describes Mary Ann at this period as: “…a total enigma to all the men who sought her favors, of which there were many. They never had the faintest idea what she was after. The extremity of her emotional demands made them wilt with terror. The sharpness of her intelligence made them feel inadequate. Her complete irresistibility as a woman made them unable to go away. She’d discovered her power over men at a very early age and she used it well.”
Eventually Jerry and others who followed enrolled and then disappeared just as suddenly. Acquaintances of Robert’s - Peter and Tim, who had attended classes with him at the architectural school - became interested in Robert’s and Mary Ann’s process. Peter would later become Father John and Tim became Father Aaron of The Process Church. These two friends knew somehow that Robert had the answers. In their wake came other friends and associates - a whole group of them, male and female, eager to discover what they had discovered.
Out of his network of friends a group began to form. Social ties within the group grew stronger, and at the same time, members of the group began to withdraw from the outside world. This eventually led to social implosion in 1965 – 66, which separated the group from the larger society and put it in opposition to the surrounding culture. Originally born as a therapy process, the group matured and became the seeds for The Process: Church of the Final Judgment.
Most of what The Process would stand for, believe in, its temper and its style, would have origins in the basic personalities of its founders, Robert and Mary Ann DeGrimston. Robert’s and Mary Ann’s meeting would be a catalyst, for they both possessed skills and native intelligence that in combination made them an extremely effective team. Their minds had been educated in opposing directions, yet were complimentary for the work they had cut out for themselves. Mary Ann’s techniques at analysis of others’ needs and weaknesses and her ability to exploit them was balanced by Robert’s elegant writing abilities, poise and appearance. His skills made for the perfect doctrinal teacher and prophet – hers, the charisma necessary toward binding and controlling the first rank of members.
They were driven by intense complimentary needs, which resulted in a highly creative synthesis: One to judge, one to execute the judgment, so to speak.
End of Part II
THE FINAL JUDGMENT
THE FINAL JUDGMENT
By R. N. Taylor
-The Road to Xtul-
“My prophesy upon this wasted earth, and upon the corrupt creation that squats upon its ruined surface, is THOU SHALT KILL.”
- Robert De Grimston, from Jehovah On War
The 1960s was a tumultuous decade to be certain. It was a ten-year period jam-packed with portentous events. In gazing back at that decade nearly thirty years later, one is struck by the sheer madness of it all. The second thing that becomes obvious is how much those events of that decade have defined the remainder of this millennium. The following thirty years seem in many ways to be little more than a lineal continuation of the ‘60s, but not simply in a chronological order. The threads of certain events seem to have tenaciously woven their way through the warp and woof of time, and continue to be dominant strands in the fabric of the present. We are still reeling from the ripples of repeated shock-waves that the ‘60s sent forth across the waters of time.
It was the decade of the Cold War, a term coined by British novelist George Orwell. The 1960s were to witness a heightening in Cold War tensions that would peak with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Most of us who were young teens at the beginning of the ‘60s had more or less been living with the ominous threat of nuclear extinction hanging over our heads for more than a decade. I’m sure that this real fear, though seldom discussed or spoken of, must certainly have had some effect upon the character, beliefs and perceptions of the generation that grew up in that period under its impress.
Human history as we know it is a long, almost monotonous series of wars, invasions and annihilation. What, however, makes a qualified difference between past times and the nuclear age is that nuclear warfare is an imposing threat for any average individual to respond to in any normal human way. In the past, one could trust in their own strength, courage, weapons and wits to survive. But suddenly, a generation was confronted with a threat for which the only answer was to dig a hole in the ground, cower, pray, and not come up for air until they tell you the coast is clear! How powerless, how dependent upon factors far beyond one’s understanding and control. How emasculating in effect.
Nuclear warfare, for all its technological wonders and wizardry, effectively relegates warfare to a level of abject Nihilism. Gone is any sense of heroism, courage, or honor. Even dying and sacrifice have lost any meaning. Nihilism is, in fact, negation of any belief or certainty, and the Nihilism of the Cold War can logically be seen as a major contributing factor to the spiritual malaise that would ensue. The advent of Atomized or Nihilistic philosophies and feelings in any civilization is a clear indication of an impending spiritual crisis. How could it be otherwise?
For those of us growing up in the ‘60s, the assassinations, race riots, missile crisis, Vietnam, lower-spectrum guerilla warfare and a plethora of other outstanding and outrageous events were sure to feed the already festering spiritual crisis that had been gaining momentum over the preceding hundred years in the West. America, with its economic prosperity, was long overdue for this spiritual crisis to arrive. The events of the 1950s and 1960s would effectively kick-start the crisis.
This spiritual void would soon serve as a ready receptacle and medium for various cultic formations: Hindu fakirs, psychoanalytical cults and various prophets of doom from distant shores would leave their calling cards on America’s door step.
In retrospect, it appears that Robert and Mary Ann De Grimston had completed their less-than-formal studies and experiments with Adlerian psychology and Scientology, and had formed their Compulsion Analysis Group in 1963 just in time. By 1966, when they were ready to make their appearance on the cult scene, the spiritual crisis was in full drone and they could hear the plaintive call from far Columbia’s shore. They would soon answer it by making North America the focus of their interests and activities. America was over-ripe for the picking. One could already detect the signs of its spiritual and cultural rot and decay everywhere. It has oft been repeated that America is the only country that has gone straight from barbarism to decadence with nothing occurring in-between.
So it was in this social setting of the mid-sixties that a former cavalry officer of aristocratic lineage with three years of university study in architecture and a former street waif, call girl and street-wise psychologist would meet and join as a husband and wife team in founding an apocalyptic cult.
Most cults are founded by men. It is usually men who are at the center of cults and their activities. In this sense, The Process differed from most cults. It had two founders and two leaders, but it was Robert, with his photogenic poses and often eloquent and strident teachings, who fulfilled this male prophet role. Mary Ann was the sounding board and advisor to the Prophet. She concentrated on the personalities of the movement’s leadership. She was the power behind the throne. Robert would apparently be content to record his dire pronouncements “on a debased humanity” far from the maddening crowd and in the comfort of his ivory tower existence. This arrangement seemed to work well for them. Probably neither of them acting independently could have effectively marshaled a following into a cult on their own. They obviously needed one another’s participation and complimentary talents in combination to make it work. But wherever and whenever a group is founded and run by two separate people, the seeds of schism, splintering or infighting are a distinct and present possibility. In the case of The Process, this was apparently its major cause of undoing: The break-up of Robert and Mary Ann’s marriage. But there is much more to the saga both during and after its known existence, so let’s take a look and consider the known facts as well as some pretty far-flung theories.
Much of the interest and continuing mystique of The Process can no doubt be attributed to the conflicting reports, innuendoes, and sketchy second-hand knowledge that exists. In this sense, it is the stuff of detective novels and sleuthing to uncover the facts, so let me describe something about what we have to work with here.
Picture a puzzle in which we do not as yet have all the pieces. In fact, the only pieces that we have fitted together are those that form only the outline or periphery of our puzzle, leaving the center blank. Besides these known and interlocking pieces are a lot of other pieces that may or may not belong to this puzzle, and still other pieces that may be counterfeit, manufactured and intended to sell books and entertain or to mislead and confuse.
Let us firstly look at what we do in fact know about The Process, while at the same time digressing when necessary to pursue a tip, rumor, enigmatic connection or other qualifying comment.
“Come to Xtul, cries the voice of angels in the wind.
Come to Xtul, where the wonders of this world begin.
For you the glory of Xtul. For you the glory of Xtul.”
- Process Hymn.
The group’s original name, Compulsion Analysis, a name that reeks of pseudo-scientific pretensions, was discarded in 1964 in favor of the more catchy and mystic sounding name, The Process. This was a name without tight boundaries, open-ended in meaning. One could discover numerous ways of interpreting so ambiguous a name. What is a process? It’s a steady, graduated, unfolding and developing dynamic. By adding “The”, we have the implication established that there can only be one true process, and “The Process” is it. The term “Process” can also have the implication of a way or technique.
Apparently, origins of the name are more likely to be found in a less prosaic source, like the terminology of Scientology from which both of the De Grimstons had emerged. It is probably derived from the Scientology term that describes the psychological journey of the individual from a “normal” state to a “clear” state. Perhaps it alludes to the group being the processing agent of transformation in the individual. Whatever its true derivation was, it became the official title of the group in 1965. It also would assume a highly mystical significance to those who would follow its teachings.
Late in 1964, De Grimston was quoted as saying, “We are not offering super powers, but a means by which people can live on this side more effectively.” A modest goal, to be sure. Perhaps the key and most important part of that quote is the reference being made to “this side”. Certainly there is a glimmer of religiosity apparent – an assumption that there is more than one side to reality or existence. This was before the group had officially become a religion in all its outward aspects.
In March of 1966, The Process emerged from the shadows and assumed a public face. This public inauguration of the group coincided with their purchasing a lease on Two Balfour Place in London’s exclusive Mayfair District. This base of operation was part of a plan by Robert and Mary Ann to begin proselytizing their beliefs and organizing the believers. This is the official story as told by The Process. We have other stories from writers such as Ed Sanders in his book The Family, which alleges that all that the De Grimstons were intent on doing was cynically bleeding their followers of their bank accounts and setting themselves up as a sort of Royal Family.
When one scrutinizes the lifestyle of the group’s leaders, the type of properties leased, the constant travel costs and such, one can assume a fairly large budget for operating costs, considering the actual number of people involved. So if Sanders and others are not absolutely right, there is good evidence to support some of these claims, although such victimizing of members might well have occurred only later, once the group had established themselves. In the beginning, however, most of the funds did seem to originate in the fortunes of wealthy members who voluntarily surrendered their money to the cult.
Apparently, the take, outside of these large donations, was not so great in the beginning (if it ever really was). By May of ‘66, the De Grimstons sent one of the faithful to scout the possibility of finding a suitable living place for the group that was outside of England. The group had already been attracting less-than-enthusiastic response from the press, which began to mock and satirize the De Grimstons and their flock.
In June of that same year, a group of inner-core Processeans, accompanied by the De Grimstons themselves, embarked on a pilgrimage that would first take them to Nassau in the British Bahamas. Once there, after encountering quarantine problems as a result of a pack of six wolf-like Alsatian Shepherds that they had brought along from England, they rented a large colonial-style house. It was a big house, like the Balfour house in London. At this stage, there was little group cohesion. It was more a case of individuals sharing space and little more. For the most part, they were strangers to one another. Most of the members acquired local jobs. They stayed in Nassau for about three months. An island had been located for sale, but they never acted upon acquiring it. Perhaps they did not have the funds necessary for the purchase, or plans had changed. In any event, they had thought of going to Caracas, Venezuela or Mexico City. Both locations were of approximately equal distance from Nassau. At this point, many of the group’s major decisions were made in meditation circles in which each member articulated whatever images came to mind during these sessions. Mexico seemed to have the most positive projections.
Mexico City was their next port of call. They stayed there only three days before wandering off in a rickety old bus as they followed portents and hunches in regards to where to go next. Eventually they came to Sisal, a small coastal village on the Yucatan coast.
Sisal lies near the town of Merida, which is the largest town in the state of Yucatan. The group of thirty cultists arrived there in early September, ‘66. Apparently, by some stroke of blind fate, the group located a sizable property along the coast. It was an abandoned plantation with several ramshackle buildings and a large ruined building consisting of four walls but no roof. This all came about by a number of coincidences and synchronicities. The lease cost $175 a year. It afforded them with four miles of beaches, a lagoon, a stand of palm tree jungle and plenty of privacy.
The grounds where they settled were surrounded by coconut palms called Xtul (pronounced Sh-tool). For some reason, they believed erroneously that the name Xtul was an ancient Mayan word meaning terminus or arrival. In fact, it meant nothing of the kind as one cultural anthropologist was later to make clear to them. However, this was ignored as the legend of Xtul had already become an integral part of their mythos. It seems that there were an amazing and inexplicable number of coincidences of the magical thinking variety. Something mystical and spiritual began to blossom among the group’s thinking.
Isolate several or more individuals. Reduce them to largely interacting with one another in a sort of void, and they begin to mirror beliefs and behavior back and forth between them. When it is only two people, the phenomenon is known as folie a du (folly of two). In this case, it seemed a folly of many. As events would occur and transpire, a new motive force was projected – that of some sort of divine presence in it all. Perhaps there are more synchronicities and fateful coincidences, more entwining of events than are generally noticed or acknowledged. Take away the distractions of civilization and urban life, clear the mind and simplify the tasks. Allow them to have a certain ambient state in which to muse or engage in reverie, while at the same time re-enforcing the magical thinking of the group.
Until this time, the group was not a religion, but a psychoanalytical group. Xtul became the turning point. This is where they would instead metamorphose into a religious sect with a new theology and a new mandate straight from the Gods themselves!
It is perhaps not so unique that a group of urban people suddenly amid a veritable wilderness and isolated from the larger world with few distractions and constant reinforcement of the group’s reality would, in short time, begin to revert to pantheistic perceptions and feelings.
The events that would occur at Xtul would serve as another element or impulse behind the group becoming convinced of divine guidance and a mysterious purpose. Paramount among these events was a tremendous hurricane that swept through their dwellings in late September, just a few weeks after their arrival at Xtul. Winds raging at forces as much as 200 miles per hour tore through the community and left a path of destruction. One can imagine the psychological effects of young urban Londonites face-to-face with the awe-inducing force of raw, untamed nature. And it apparently became a propitious time, a shared and memorable experience for those who were there. It served as the bonding for this core group of adherents. It also marked the beginning of their new identity as a religion.
Initially, the group found itself primarily preoccupied with finding a way to eat. There were coconuts free for the picking but such food stuffs became boring and tasteless in time. Some of the group went out with local fisherman and shared in the catch. Others planted a vegetable garden. Drinking water was a daily necessity and had to be brought in from the nearby village. The water in a nearby well was saline. Eventually a spring was located, and with the aid of bamboo, it was piped down to a convenient location. The weather was so mild that most of the group slept out of doors in hammocks or on mats. During rain storms, they would all cram into the shelter of the house. Relations with the nearby village seemed to be amicable and even-handed.
From all accounts, the group stayed very busy and did a lot of work. Evenings were spent in what was to become religious practices – meditation, vigils, prayer, fasting, lengthy discussions and dreaming. Someone concocted a makeshift instrument with a coconut shell and gut strings. They began to compose songs that the group could sing. They began to discover the beauties and miracles of nature and a natural existence.
Near the end of September, Mr. MacMillan, the British consul stationed in nearby Merida, paid the encampment a surprise visit. He had come to warn them that a great hurricane named Inez was headed right their way and it would sweep them all away if they did not pack up and go inland. He further offered his home as a haven for the group.
The group gathered to hear the news. In only a few minutes, they had decided that they would stay right where they were. They thanked Mr. MacMillan but politely declined his offer. Instead, they began to fortify the place and construct a lean-to against the north wall facing the sea and the direction that the hurricane would be coming from.
True to the dire warning, the skies began to darken and the wind began to rise in force. Palm trees bent and refuse began to fill the air. The winds increased in ferocity and velocity. The south wall collapsed in an avalanche, but no one was situated there at the time. The fear of the walls collapsing on them drove everyone out into the open where they huddled beneath blankets, soaked from the rain. They chanted and sang songs to boost one another’s spirits. Hurricane Inez ravaged Xtul for two straight days.
Inez began to pass and the weather cleared. All were safe, if a little worse for wear. In the hurricane’s wake, litter lay scattered on the beaches. A fishing boat from nearby Vera Cruz had washed ashore. The group helped secure the boat and shared in some of the fish in its hold. Shortly after things settled down, members of the group went to town and helped the local villagers to repair their homes and such. The villagers showed them their gratitude with thanks and food. No injuries had occurred among the villagers, so the rebuilding was a happy affair.
The cult shared in the disaster relief sent by the Red Cross from the United States by way of the Mexican government. This amounted to bulk quantities of tortilla flour and black beans, as well as some building supplies. The locals gave them roasted ducks in thanks for their help in rebuilding their hamlet out of the wreckage. The cult began putting things back in order at Xtul.
The hurricane, as a shared group experience, had helped to define the group’s future religious direction. They had experienced both the benevolent and wrathful sides of God and nature. One of them later explained it this way: “Xtul was the place where we met God face-to-face. It was the experience that led to the establishment of The Church. It was the point at which the group, or most of the group, felt they had a mission and a calling. This post-hurricane period was a fruitful time for the cult. It was a time of preparation and planning for the future of their mission.”
Several of their number decided to take leave and went home, but the body of the group stayed. In October of 1966, Robert began writing the first of his prophetic books, eventually to be titled Xtul Dialogues. These were writings that only real insiders of the group were ever allowed to read in later years. It is composed of eight separate conversations between student and teacher in a sort of Socratic exchange. These dialogues were said to be inspired and collaborated on by Mary Ann. This type of writing was to be both a source of ideas as well as a style in De Grimston’s subsequent and more public works.
As to the authorship of De Grimston’s writings, he felt that he was merely a medium or channel for them. The Gods were speaking through him. He gave his technique as a process of storing up impressions, phrases and ideas and writing them down in long, intensive bouts of writing. Robert always spoke of his writing as simply a channeling of thoughts into words from some higher source outside himself, though he never stated that it was, in fact, God or Gods speaking through him.
At this junction in the cult’s continuing development, only one God is mentioned: Jehovah, God of strength, wrath and nature (or so Robert interpreted this archetype). It would still be several years before his doctrine of the great Gods of the universe would be publicly expounded. At this point, Lucifer, Satan and Christ had not joined the cult’s pantheon of powers (at least this is the official Process account).
Stephen Sennett tells the story somewhat differently in his article in the book Rapid Eye #3. He claims they had already begun to express their beliefs in terms of four facets or forces of God – Jehovah, Lucifer, Satan, and Christ as the reconciler of the first three – but then all of this is merely academic.
Ed Sanders, in his now expurgated chapters of his book The Family, claims that it was in fact at Xtul that the cult got into Satanism. At Xtul they coined a new phrase, Xtummie, which Sanders defines as meaning a sort of satanic preparedness.
William Simms Bainbridge’s academic study of the group titled The Power gives a slightly different definition to the phrase: “This is an important concept defined in the notes to a series of essays that Robert wrote at Xtul. To Xtumm is to kill – either physically, spiritually or mentally, depending on the context.”
Another cult word invented at Xtul that also began with an “X” was Xpiel, which was just a fancy spelling of the Yiddish or German word that means a verbal flow of words. The use of an “X” seems to have been a popular practice among the group during and following the Xtul adventure. In fact, in true cultic mode, a whole nonsense lexicon of words was derived in this manner. Here, one is reminded of Charles Manson and his followers carving Xs on their foreheads during the Manson trial as a symbolic way of “X-ing themselves out of society”.
One conspicuously missing chapter in the official Process tale of Xtul is the matter of several minors with the group whose parents had sent a solicitor to return them home. One wealthy father got together with several other parents who had children staying with the group at Xtul. Under the law they were still minors, subject to parental control. The cult was to learn the all-too-real truth that no matter how far you flee from civilization, it always finds a way to cast a shadow in your life.
The solicitor arrived at Xtul accompanied by an official of the British Embassy as well as a Mexican immigration officer. Three persons, one nineteen and two of them twenty years, respectively, left with the officials. The solicitor told the London scandal newspaper reporters that he had encountered twenty-two of the cultists – fifteen men and seven women. All were shabbily dressed, except for Mary Ann De Grimston who was clad in a stylish bikini with her fingernails polished silver. According to the solicitor, she seemed to be treated by the others in the group like some sort of high priestess (or is it dominatrix, if we are to believe Sanders’ book?). All in all, Xtul offended his strict sense of middle-class propriety. One must keep in mind the time period. The long hair and beards that the men cultivated certainly were out of the ordinary. The Hippie movement had not yet fully burgeoned to become an international phenomenon. When it finally did blossom, attitudes like the solicitor’s and worse were waiting around every corner for everyone with that sort of lifestyle or look.
There were still a number of underage members with the group. It was decided after much discussion and meditation that most of the group would return to London for a while so as to rescue the members who had been taken away by the solicitor, as well as to elude any efforts that might be made to abduct the remaining teenagers.
Upon return to London, one of those abducted was brought back and he became one of the leading figures of the group several years afterwards. Eight members stayed at Xtul while the rest returned to London. At this point, the cult intended to maintain the camp at Xtul as its long-term headquarters. A short time later, three more of the remaining eight also decided to return to London. The last five stayed on for a total of one year after they had first arrived. One of the women gave birth to a child before she and the remaining members left.
Meanwhile, those of the group who returned to London began to spruce up the Balfour headquarters which was still on lease to them. In a few months, they opened a coffee house. In addition, they were actively running courses and having lectures and other services. Next, they began publishing a magazine, The Common Market. Here they began to criticize Britain’s proposed entry into the European Economic Community. This was based on the prophesy in the Bible’s Book of Revelations concerning something about a ten-headed beast, which many interpreters relate to being symbolic of the EEC. Several members even interviewed members of the House of Commons for this first issue of their magazine. It seemed a strange choice of issues for the time, as did the publication’s name, but then so did many of their subsequent interests and pursuits prove equally strange.
As for the whereabouts of Mary Ann and Robert during this period, there are differing stories. At some time they probably returned to London after the Xtul expedition. Sanders has them accepting a mammoth donation from a member who had recently inherited a fortune. He claims that they used $80,000 of this money to purchase a yacht in Greece, which they used in secret travel between the Mayfair mansion and their paradise lagoon in Mexico.
Robert, in his public writings, would now present his concept of the four archetypal Gods. Additionally, he would perfect his theory of ending all enmity between the forces of Satan and those of Christ. This somewhat novel concept was summed up as follows:
“Christ said: Love your enemies. Christ’s enemy was Satan and Satan’s enemy was Christ. Through love, enmity is destroyed. Through love, saint and sinner destroy the enmity between them. Through love, Christ and Satan have destroyed their enmity and come together for the end: Christ to judge, Satan to execute the judgment. The judgment is wisdom; the execution of the judgment is love.”
How simple, yet how verbally diabolic in a real sense. Is it just prosaic speech intended to sound profound? Is it a twisting of a previous doctrine to the extent that this doctrine is forced to bite its own tail in contradiction of itself? Or is it just the plaintive aspiration of some dreamy-eyed mystic and poet yearning for some peaceful reconciliation of opposites so as to dispense with life’s paradoxes? I’m sure more than a few followers mused on that oft-used statement of policy for a while.
Also during this period, De Grimston began to teach his doctrine of The Games of the Gods. Also at this time, somewhere in the wings off-stage, was Mary Ann who was formalizing her concept of fear. She is credited with being the sculptress of this concept and teaching.
For the time being, they were all back in London feeling renewed from the Xtul retreat. Many a rhapsody was written in remembrance of Xtul. The name of their official publication was changed to The Process. A photo in one of these issues of this period depicts a group of nine black-clad Processean adepts, including De Grimston, sitting at a large conference table contemplating a large globe. One can only wonder at the inner thoughts. Were they perplexed to how they would deliver their new message and glad tidings about the impending end of the world? Or were they plotting some fantastic strategy of diabolic proportions to assist in its ultimate demise? We will probably never know for sure. What we do know for sure is that they had resolved the question of whether they wanted to bring new people into their group or keep others out. They apparently decided to reach out and touch someone, as the next phase of the cult’s development will prove.
End of Part III