CULTS, SECTS AND DEVIANT MOVEMENTS OVERVIEW AND HISTORICAL BACKDROP There is a vast variet
CULTS, SECTS AND DEVIANT MOVEMENTS
OVERVIEW AND HISTORICAL BACKDROP
There is a vast variety of different cults, sects and deviant move-
ments in the United States today. One estimate numbers the active
cults at between five and six hundred, with two thousand potential
movements represented. Keeping track of individual deviant movements,
even in one's own locality, is a time consuming task, however, under-
standing some common traits of these movements will assist us in
recognizing them for what they are.
Most religious and political movements have a CHARISMATIC FIGURE at
the head. This charismatic figure embodies the authority of the
movement. The figure generally claims an extraordinary or divine
experience which sets him apart from others or claims some type of
special political ideology which is unique in the time and area in
which it emerges. The charismatic authority figure claiming a divine
revelation will generally be at the head of a religious cult or sect.
The figure claiming special political ideology will generally be at
the head of a political movement. Political and religious distinc-
tions are often blurred and combined so various movements contain some
elements of religion as well as politics; these are called identity
church movements. For the purpose of understanding the pure forms,
the following information will divide the movements into religious
Any movement-whether or positive or negative in nature-generally occurs
during a period of "anomie." The Greek word "nomos" means "something
which gives structure and meaning." Something which is "anomic" takes
away or reduces structure. The noun "anomie" describes a time or
condition where structure and meaning, the orderly flow of civiliza-
tion, is being threatened or attacked by counter-culture influences
within the society. During anomie societal institutions (such as
home, family, church, education, government, the military, law, and
justice) undergo severe attacks and a dissolution of public confi-
dence. In the United States a great anomic tendency surged during the
sixties and seventies. The Viet Name War years and Watergate gave
tremendous impetuous to the feeling of anomie in individuals and
cultural groups. In some cases anomic feelings are intentionally
fostered to hasten the dissolution of stability.
Individuals can undergo temporary anomic periods in their own lives.
During these periods the individuals are more susceptible to the
influences of counter-cultural or deviant movements. A freshman in
college or a new recruit in the military... both of whom find them-
selves isolated in strange surroundings without their normal peer and
group support... are in a position where they have to search for
stability. Farmers who just had their family farms repossessed and
adults having been through a recent divorce experience periods of
anomie. If a deviant group takes precedence in a person's life during
an anomic period it may capture that person's loyalty, thought pat-
terns, and life behaviors for the rest of his life, or that group's
influence may decline in proportion with the level of anomie in the
person's life. Mental instability aggravates the tendency of persons
to fall under cult/deviant influence during anomic periods.
In a religious context the authority which emanates from the charis-
matic authority figure translates into a "mission for God". Charis-
matic figures arise during periods of anomie. They are agents of
change. In a political context (such as the political philosophies of
Marx, Lenin, and Mao), change occurs by following political ideologues
instead of divine mandate. These ideologues often embrace the philos-
ophy that "the end justifies the means", that there is no higher
mission than the political need, and this mission transcends normal
moral law and values. This transcendency opens the door for political
ideologies to attract fanatics and extremists. Their activities and
beliefs often violate the human and civil rights of others, particu-
larly "non-believers" or nom-members of their group.
(This profile applies to every period of major change in the history
of the world whether the change was for good or bad.)
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTS
Cults should be distinguished from other groups such as sects and
religions. A cult is usually a small starting place for a deviant
movement. As the "cult" philosophy gains momentum and adherents and
as society becomes accustomed to it, the cult may change into a "sect"
which is a bit more well-established. Sects show more stability and
societal acceptance than do cults. As a sect grows and wins some
popular acceptance and support it may one day be accepted by society
asúa religion. The progression from cult to sect to religion usually
is a process which occurs over a period of many years.
Cults usually have core groups of fundamentalists, whether in the
political, religious, or religio-political context. They are the ones
who hold the "pure vision" of where the cult should go. Mixtures of
philosophy and ideology brought in by new converts to the cult tend to
dilute the pure vision. The dilution of the pure vision often makes
the cult more acceptable to society because more of society's values
are being represented in the cult. Stress occurring between fundamen-
talist and liberal factions may cause sub-groups to splinter off.
When a "sect" passes to "religion" status a combination of things has
occurred. First, the adherents to the religion normally portray few
traits which are objectionable to society. Society on the other hand,
has learned to "live and let live" and accepts the religion's beliefs
Various cultic groups tend to have many factors in common, especially
in the progression of movement of uninitiated persons toward and into
cult involvement. Cults attract followers from general society. The
followers begin to take on certain characteristics of the cult. The
following factors are pertinent to the identification of a group as a
1. Voluntary, achieved membership: New adherents must pass some sort
of test, possibly a rite or ritual, in order to achieve member-
ship. Membership is sought after and does not occur accidentally or
incidental to some other societal activity.
2. Members assume an elitist self-image: This self-image is spawned
and fostered by the organization of the cult. Certain "faith
maintenance mechanisms" are built into cult membership. These
often take the form of a series of rituals, pledges, oaths or
tests of worthiness. There are also "boundary maintenance mecha-
nisms" which tend to separate the cult member from the rest of
society, from non-members, from family, and from normal peer group
associations. Cult members develop an "us versus them" mentality.
3. Exclusivism: Members believe that they are the "only ones with the
truth" and (in some manner) will be the only ones who will be
among the "saved remnant" when some catastrophic event occurs.
Actually, normal logical truth is irrelevant in the cult context.
Some religious cults use "heavenly deception" for recruiting and
initiating new members deeper into the cult mechanism. They also
use the process of "operative exclusivism" which allows only those
who need to know to become aware of certain privileged information
as they progress into the cult. There are usually numerous levels
of information that are shared only with people who have proven
their loyalty and worth to the cult organization and therefore
have progressed upward in the organization.
4. Hostility: By the very nature of cult beliefs (which separate the
members from society and indoctrinate them into the belief that
cult members only possess the truth) hostility towards society and
its institutions is generated. This hostility feeds on individu-
al's hostile tendencies which were brought into the group. On the
other hand, society is often prejudiced against the cult... often
this is based on fear, superstition or non-existent "facts". Per-
ceived hostility from society does nothing more than fuel the
hostility of the cult member. (This is a key principle to
understand when contacting cult members in an effort to defuse a
situation or gain rapport with a cult member. Face-to-face
confrontation will generally tend to reduce avenues of communica-
5. Acetism: Members often display personal willingness to sacrifice
self-comfort, finances and personal efforts for "the cause." Cults
frequently demand acetism from their members. Cults can generate
a great deal of financial support as they convince members to turn
over their personal wealth and possessions to the group for the
6. Priesthood of All Believers: This term, in a religious context
means that all those initiated into the cult membership share
equal, automatic priesthood and therefore share the authority of
the cult. There are usually various levels of priesthood, but
adherents develop tremendous peer support and identification
through the "priesthood of all believers" phenomenon. Believers
are convinced they are very close to their god(s), sometimes in
contact with god(s) and sometimes gods themselves.
In a political context the "priesthood of all believers" phenome-
non leads to increasingly elitist feelings. The perception is
that since one is part of the select few he is somehow untouchable
by normal societal standards, morality, laws, and ethics. He is
therefore free to make whatever changes necessary or to take
whatever actions seem appropriate at the time under the "end-jus-
tifies-the-means" philosophy. This frequently manifests itself in
extremism and terrorism.
7. Increasing Control Mechanisms: The deeper a member proceeds into
cult involvement, the wider the gap will become between that
person and his origins in society. Control mechanisms are step-by-
step levels of control which increasingly attack the member's
independent thought and freedom of action. Often control mecha-
nisms are "mind control" and "brainwashing" tactics. They include
physical isolation, deprivation of food, sleep, family and peer
support coupled with intensely repetitive indoctrination involving
little opportunity for questions or evaluation on a rational
scale. Cults have the potential to control every aspect of an
individual's life. The control mechanisms are powerful enough to
completely reprogram the thinking and activities of the members to
coincide with the authoritarian philosophy of the charismatic
leader of the cult group.
A three part written account details the process whereby an
intelligent, normally well-adjusted college student, the daughter
of a Baptist minister, was enticed into the Unification Church.
In a period of three days she was convinced that the philosophy of
the group was "the only truth." This preceeded months of involve-
ment where the girl became increasingly subject to the mind
control processes of the group. Finally, in desparation, (all
other attempts at reason having failed) the family enlisted the
aid of a professional deprogrammer," kidnapped" the daughter and
talked her out of the mind control mechanism.
As a cult grows and survives it develops ritualized behaviors.
The charismatic figure may start to share his authority with other
(trusted) members. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO IDENTIFY WHO IS IN
POWER IN A CULT GROUP. ALL POWER FLOWS FROM HIM.
The isolation or encapsulation of a cult or sect group which
includes a leader figure is a very dangerous situation. (Examples
such as the Peoples Temple led by Jim Jones in Guyana and the CSA
on a 150 acre tract of land in the south, had tragic results.) The
physical isolation of a group by fences, terrain or controlled
movements, places the members completely under the power of the
charismatic figure. Combined with misguided philosophy and an
arsenal of weapons, total control of suggestible people has
explosive potential. Conclaves of such isolationist sects are
found in the South, Northwest and West where open terrain allows
them to flourish and survive with little interference.
8. Elimination of Critical Recourse: Members of cult groups
seldom have "critical resource". This is the avenue which members
of any movement are either given or denied. When given it allows
the members to question those in authority through established
channels and tends to filter out aberrant behavior within an
organized, legitimate group or denomination. Established reli-
gions have such things as synods, councils, bishops, elders,
deacons, etc., or some parallel political group which handle
complaints and questions from members about doctrines and philos-
ophies. Critical recourse seldom entails negative sanctions upon
the person exercising it in legitimate groups.
Members of deviant groups are rarely allowed critical recourse.
They are carefully restricted from the ability to criticize or
question anyone in authority. Open criticism often results in
painful sanctions against (or even the death of) the member. It
should be noted that the power of cult groups comes from the
members level of conviction and dedication, and authoritarian
control of the cult over members.
Many cultic and sectarian groups are multinational, multimillion
dollar corporations. They are managed by competent businessmen who
adhere to the beliefs of the group. A recent report shows that one
such group, the Unification Church, grosses between 1 and 1.5 million
dollars daily from street sales and begging by its members. The Way
International, not only generates revenue by the gifts and donations
of its members, but also charges fees for training courses, sells
souvenir articles and printed material. It even issues savings bonds
in the name of the organization. The headquarters building of The Way
International is a five-million-dollar-plus structure. The Way has
extensive property and equipment holdings.
The U.S.A. has experienced a great upsurgence of cult and sect activ-
ities in the two-plus decades since 1960. As many as 25 million
people in the United States are directly affected by cult and sect
influence. Historically, the law enforcement community and military
are the least prepared to deal with cult and sect influences. This
ability is further diminished as deviant groups "hide" behind the
protection of the U.S. Constitution for legitimate religions.
Many cult/sect groups have well-trained, disciplined and organized
agents working to infiltrate the police and the military. These are
not fly-by-night operations, but well-financed thrusts.
There are two basic structures seen in cults and sects. The first is
the Authoritarian model. This can generally be envisioned as a
pyramid structure with the charismatic structure at the peak. All
authority flows downward from the charismatic figure. The authority
flow may include some trusted lieutenants who have earned the confi-
dence of the leader. The pyramid is made up of various levels with
the lowest (entry level), or worker level, on the bottom. There is
high encapsulation of these levels. Elitism increases as members
proceed up the pyramid structure and information is strictly con-
trolled on a "need to know" basis. Members seldom know the true story
of what's going on above them, but must operate on what they are told
with little or no chance of questioning or criticism.
(illustration not reproduced)
The second structure can be called a Nonauthoritarian model. This
can be visualized as a wagon wheel with a hub, spokes, and peripheral
groups. Although there is a central headquarters, the individual
local groups generally have a degree of autonomy not experienced in
the Authoritarian model. The local groups may set up on an author-
itarian or pyramidal basis or may be more "democratic" in nature. As
members progress through the hierarchy of the local structure they may
earn the right to work in the headquarters group.
(illustration not reproduced)
PERSONALITY PROFILE FOR THOSE PRONE TO CULT INVOLVEMENT
There are certain dependent personality types which are particularly
susceptible to the lure of cult involvement. Some cults target
specific age ranges toward which their indoctrination efforts are
It is not uncommon for the 18 to 26 year old group to be targeted by
groups because during this time the individuals' minds are often still
in a questioning mode. Life's values have not been totally solid-
ified. They are still eager to try new things, to be accepted by
peers and to seek thrills. They are also often displaced from their
support structure and homes because of searches for jobs, enlistment
in the military, or attendance at college. Of the members of cults
who have been studied, 80% display dependent personality types. Some
key indicators of a dependent personality are:
2. Low self esteem
3. Low achievement
4. The feeling of not being lovable
5. Feeling of isolation
6. Problems dealing with stress
7. Problems in social/sexual interaction
A youth displaying these traits, (whether they are temporary in nature
because of some change in his/her environment, due to stress, or are
indicators of the person's true psychological makeup) can be described
as possessing a "classic addict mentality." He or she is a potential
addict just waiting for an addiction to come along. Too commonly
addiction comes in the form of alcohol and drug abuse. However, many
other opportunities for unhealthy addiction are available, including
membership and participation in negative deviant groups. Chemical drug
and alcohol abuse is sometimes used as an organized recruiting
approach by deviant groups who take advantage of the addictive behav-
iors in potential "converts."
People with addictive mentalities are feeling emotional pain because
of their unsuccessful relationships and feelings of inadequacy as they
try to adjust to their environment. Addiction (to substances or peer
groups) is an effort to dull their personal pain, if even for a short
period of time and to forget for a moment the anxieties and stress
which haunt them. Participation in an authoritarian movement or other
deviant group is an addictive process. The longer one is involved,
the greater the control exercised by the group over the "addict."
Fifteen percent of cult members studied are personality types who are
normally well adjusted, but for some reason are undergoing a temporary
(anomic/addictive mentality) susceptibility due to stress or change in
their lives. These people could be classified as "situational cult-
ists", not "career cultists," although deep involvement in a cult,
even for a short period of time, may have long-ranging effects.
The farm crisis has placed many Americans in a situation of temporary
susceptibility to cult and deviant movement groups. Normally stable,
mature adults have seen their life structures shattered. They
are angry, hurt and in pain. They are open to anyone who says that
they can aid in relieving that pain.
Others who may be situationally susceptible are prisoners, service men
(especially new enlistees), the handicapped, recent divorcees looking
for peace, transients, runaways, alienated idealists, long term
unemployed, foreign nationals who are living in a new country and
youth without a purpose, i.e., especially college students who really
don't know why they are there or what they are working toward as a
career. College campuses are very fertile ground for cult and deviate
movement recruiting efforts. Junior and Senior high schools also
provide a ready source of potential converts as youths experience
teenage rebelliousness, the open availability of many destructive
influences, almost unlimited freedom, and weakening of the family
Some examples of Authoritarian groups are The Way International, which
includes at least 150,000 members internationally. Its mission is to
establish a "theocracy" as an alternative to our present democratic
system of government. This is intended to occur through the agency of
a 3.5 million person army by 1995. The Way International is probably
the most aggressive and successful cult group in the United States
today. It embodies the greatest danger for our present system of
The Unification Church (The Moonies) believe that Reverend Sun Myung
Moon is Jesus Christ personified. The Moonies combine religious and
political approaches but Moon's aims seem to be primarily political.
He desires to assume control of the government of the United States
and to enhance and support the government of the Republic of Korea.
The Unification Church utilizes intense mind control of initiates and
all its members.
Some Nonauthoritarian movements include the Church of Scientology with
headquarters in Los Angeles and England. Scientology targets young
adults, generally not less than 25 years of age, and utilizes inten-
sive psychological stripping techniques by way of "auditors" using lie
detector machines. Once adherents have obtained a "clear" (free from
"sin") status, they believe themselves to be "gods" who then can
participate in the co-creation of the world. This godhood status
often brings them into conflict with normal societal institutions,
such as the police. The Church of Scientology expends much effort
infiltrating the law enforcement community and to gaining access to
The Ananda Marga is a group which started in India in the sixties.
Its members believe that only they are qualified to exercise effective
control of the world. They believe that they belong in control of the
universe. One disturbing tenet of the group is that they believe that
they are the only group in the world which should have control of
nuclear weapons. Their mission is to take the nuclear weapons from
those who have them now. The group is primarily urban in nature, but
has major training center, one near Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
There are hundreds of other movements, cults, sects and religions
which have less-than-positive motives in comparison to the orderly
structure of the government of the United States and other nations.
Many groups do not fall within pure Authoritarian or Nonauthoritarian
definitions, but embody a combination of structures much the same as
the infinite variations in philosophy between the pure forms of
religion and pure political movements. The flaw in the cult-sect
phenomenon is that any adherent with sufficient charisma, who happens
to disagree with the prevailing cult authorities can splinter off and
start his own group according to his own "divine inspiration." This
creates a great deal of confusion when trying to track groups through
their establishment and growth process. Often, names of the groups
are changed as well as names of members.
However, becoming familiar with the major characteristics outlined
here will allow the reader to at least: 1. recognize a movement for
what it is, 2. group it into a general category. A great deal of
additional information is available about specific groups which exist
and operate in this area.
(This material is compiled from notes and materials presented at the
I.P.T.M. Cults, Sects, and Deviant Movements Seminar, held in
Jacksonville, Florida, on March 5, 6, 1986.
Compiled by Lt. Larry M. Jones, Boise Police Department)
Thousands of years ago when people started to settle down and become
agrarian rather than nomadic they were faced with new problems of
survival related to the nature and environment around them. Paganism
was man's first attempt at technology, that is, to get control of his
environment. It was also primitive religion and science.
In paganism certain people (shamans, witch doctors, medicine men) were
selected to be responsible for this technology. Often they were picked
because of some unique characteristic, such as, blindness, albinism or
epilepsy. The shamans gave human characteristics to natural things,
that is, the "anthropomorphized" elements of their environment. They
gave natural forces human names (American Indians anthropomorphized
nature as Manitou.) After naming the environmental element, the shaman
would then "communicate" by various means with it. Of course, this
communication was ineffective and open to tremendous discretionary
interpretation by the shaman. His personal will, feelings and ego were
often personified by what the "gods desired". When the shaman's
efforts proved unsuccessful (therefore putting his esteem on the line)
the "gods" often "required" gifts or sacrifices. These quickly became
institutionalized and expected. Many current tribal cultures still
practice this type of religion and communication with natural spirits
and forces. Present day religions include out-of-body travel, spirit
guides in the form of animals (familiars), ritual gifts and sacrifices
in their observances and rituals.
During the middle ages when Christianity encountered paganism, much
confusion resulted. There was a blending of Christian and pagan
beliefs as compromise was used in an effort to keep peace and encourage
societal acceptance. (The Druids in Ireland were driven out and their
beliefs officially replaced with Christianity although many Druidic
beliefs were merely driven underground and were practiced secretly.
The term bog means "evil god(s)". In modern usage this has become "the
Many ancient traditions of paganism have survived to the present day.
Greek, Roman and Egyptian worship, religion and philosophies can easily
be identified in modern American society. Some groups have absorbed
and socialized their traditions and others practice them in more or
less pure forms. There is a difference between natural religions,
(i.e. the worship of environmental forces anthropomorphized into human
or spiritual personalities) and those religions which derive from some
type of "divine revelation."
Paganism centers around goddess worship or the worship of the "earth
mother" or the "huntress". The moon is generally seen to be the
goddess symbol. The most common form of goddess worship is wiccan
(masculine noun). The feminine form of this word is wicce and the
performance of wicce beliefs is called wicce-craft or witch craft.
Wiccan is a religion within which are found denominations and orders.
Some of these include Gardnerian magic, Crowlian magic, Druidismm and
Neodruidism, and Shamanism. Historically, those practicing wiccan
religions have been stigmatized, ostracized, persecuted and killed.
Many innocent people, because of the power of fear and superstition
especially prevalent in more primitive societies, have been labeled as
witches or pagans and summarily punished, even though they had little
or no involvement in actual witchcraft. Other true witches escaped
notice as they effectively blended into society.
True paganism is often confused with the Hollywood concept of satanism.
Paganism often includes "circle magic", where the goddess or some
demonic spirit is summoned by the witch. The purpose of pagan rituals
is to call forth evil spirit(s) or some of the dead when the doors
between the world of the living and the dead aren't normally opened.
Pagans believe that the doors to the "other world" are open on April
30th and October 31st each year. These dates signify high ritual
holidays for practicing paganists. When the doors are not normally
open they believe they can be forced open by ritual means.
Some hallmarks of the ritual ceremonies include a circle which is
inscribed on the ground or floor of the meeting place which is large
enough to contain the worshipping group and the necessary artifacts for
the ritual. Sometimes the circle is scratched with a ritual sword;
other times it is made from salt or colored sand. The purpose of the
ritual circle is to protect the worshippers from those evil spirits
which are to be summoned. The spirits that they attempt to contact are
not seen to be friendly and if not kept in strict control will destroy
those summoning them.
The ritual area is often surrounded by signs or symbols placed on the
walls on the four sides of the room (if the ritual site is inside) or
placed in various places around the site if it is outside. Invisible
spiritual "towers" are established on the North, East, South and West
parts of the ritual circle by ritual means. Inside the ritual circle
are generally found the following items: an altar, which is some sort
of consecrated stone. The altar will never willingly be left behind.
The keeper of the ritual is required to protect the altar and make sure
that it is secured after the ceremony. Generally the altar has food, a
sword, bread, wine in a chalice and other articles of ritual signifi-
cance placed on it. One or more fire sites will be found inside the
ritual circle. One fire site is used for each goddess or spirit to be
called forth. The fire is a tribute to them. Often ritual offerings
such as animal sacrifices, corn or other grain are thrown into the fire
for the edification of that spirit. Candles of significant colors are
used in these ceremonies. Black candles signify death, red candles
carry a sexual connotation, lavendar candles are used for conjuring
spirits, white and green candles show friendship. The same colors may
appear in the form of threads or other ritual devices consistent with
the purpose of the ceremony.
People attending such ceremonies are generally clad either in black
robes with covered faces or "sky clad" (which means that they are
completely nude.) The symbolism of some of the ritual items used in
paganism is very interesting and informative. The chalice which holds
the wine represents the female sexual organ; the dagger (usually at
least nine inches long) represents the male sexual organ.
Some variations to the single circle ritual set-up may be seen depend-
ing on the nature of the intent of the ritual. Sometimes one, two or
three circles are established next to each other. The priest or
priestess would stand in one and require the summoned demon to appear
in another,etc. The protective sealing of the ritual areas is abso-
lutely vital to the safety of the participants from the attacks of the
demonic spirits which they call forth. They believe that an accidental
or unintentional break in the ritual circle will allow the howling
hoards of hell to enter the ritual area uncontrolled. Likewise,
rituals must be flawlessly performed to be "safe", successful, and
Generally speaking the group of people gathering to complete paganism
rituals can be labeled as a coven. Covens meet on a regular basis
according to a complex calendar system very closely related to earth
cycles, moon phases, astrology and other ancient tradition.
People involved in the homosexual lifestyle are often comfortable with
paganism because of the worship of a goddess-mother figure. Homosexual
pagans often work in witchcraft stores and in places where they have
access to children. They learn magic, become involved in covens and
also make many homosexual contacts in the process.
In the pure form, paganists do not use the terms "demon" or "satan".
However, Alister Crowley, a proponent of paganism of the "Golden Dawn"
tradition who died in 1947, combined some elements of both the satanism
and paganism traditions. He authored a very sinister type of paganism
which usually entails extremely illegal acts. Crowley's book, "Magick"
identifies him as "666-the Beast". He formalized some paganism tradi-
tions under the name of Ordi Templi Orientis or O.T.O., which means the
Order of the Oriental Temple. O.T.O. has thirteen degrees of rites.
Instead of being called covens, the groups were organized into "lodg-
es." The highest two degrees involve homosexuality and ritual sacrific-
The O.T.O. is a select and secretive group with only a small number of
people actively involved. They are likely to commit ritual molesta-
tions of children or adults, dismemberments and murder. Crowley
himself was an opium addict. Drug use is very prevalent among this
group of people.
There is often confusion when talking about different forms of magic.
Paganists make a distinction between "black magic" and "white magic" in
that black magic is used for bad purposes (summoning up demons to do
evil works) whereas white magic is used to do good. This is merely a
confusion of definitions in that all "magic" stems from the same source
regardless of the alleged object of the magical rite. However, in the
pagan tradition any coven can perform either "black" or "white" magic
depending on the purpose or object desired.
Recruitment into pagan covens or witchcraft covens is generally accom-
plished through personal association and word of mouth. In recent
years recruitment has taken on many of the hallmarks of a major adver-
tising campaign. Evidences of the societal acceptance of witchcraft
and personal involvement in the witchcraft is epidemic in television,
movies, printed literature, etc. All this combines to erode society's
historical abhorrence of witchcraft and guarantee its eventual accep-
tance by the public. Whereas witches used to be burned at the stake,
now they have syndicated columns, make T.V. commercials and star on
The Society for Creative Anarchism or S.C.A. sponsors periodic "Ren-
aissance Fairs" which present the milder and attactive aspects of
wicce-craft to the public. These fairs are used to recruit people for
local covens. (The Chapter House book store at 8th and Idaho in Boise
has an extensive section devoted to mind science and goddess worship
type literature. A short visit can be very enlightening!)
Paganism uses many types of talismans or symbols which are believed to
possess magical traits. Talismans are believed to be power devices.
They are sacred objects, active symbols. Amulets are worn for the
protection of the wearer. Common symbols are five pointed stars called
pentagrams, which have the single point upward. A pentagram in a
circle is called a closed pentagram. The satan symbol is a five
pointed star with the single point downward, often called the "goat's
head star." Other symbols include representations of specific goddess-
es, deities, or spirits as well as astrological signs. Alphabets of
ancient writings are often used in incantations and communications.
These can be very illuminating when observed in conjunction with
rituals, sacrifices, suicides, crime scenes, etc.
Many offshoots and different traditions exist which embody the basic
philosophies of paganism. "Odinism" is an ancient Nordic form of
religious magic or paganism. Many of its beliefs were adopted by the
Nazis S.S. Odinism worships the god Thor and female deity Freya.
Runic writing is common and now is seen in communication between
members of right wing radical, cults, and other deviant groups.
Paganism stresses the attention to the body's normal cycles (especially
female cycles), fertility and control of these things through the
agencies of rituals and summoned supernatural forces. As such, pagan-
ism is very attractive to those who focus on the flesh or who desire to
exercise extraordinary control over their environment or other people.
Paganism appeals to the human ego, the desire for mastery, ascendency,
and power. POWER IS REALLY THE NAME OF THE GAME.
Much of so-called satan worship engaged in by teens today is actually a
combination of paganism, satanism, Hollywood hype and the influence of
their personal lusts and desires. Fantasy role-playing fits right into
the paganist philosophy by allowing individuals to act out personal
fantasies for mastery and control over others. Role-playing games are
often related to violent Medieval and other ancient traditions which
are totally out of place in modern society. There is much emphasis on
weapons, attack, and assassination. Role playing games focus on
today's youth through intense media campaigns, easily available games
and accessories (including deadly weapons), through stores and mail
Palladium Publishers (and others) make books available to anyone who
has the price, which explain in great detail the methods of assassina-
tion used by the Thugees, the Ninja and the Society of Assassins.
Palladium's books Weapons and Assassins and Contemporary Weapons are
published ostensibly to augment certain role playing games. They
explain in detail which weapon to use to kill another human being and
how to make poison and other agents of death "from scratch." These
books are available through game, book and hobby stores.
(As an aside to paganism the role playing game phenomenon has been
contributed to the death of at least 55 young people in this nation.
20/20 recently did a segment on role playing games which should be
available from the network by video tape. We must determine for
ourselves what degree of personal investment our young people have made
in role playing games, in paganism, and in satanic worship just to be
Satanism, as with other traditions, has its pure form as well as its
diluted or combined forms. The common thread stems from the worship of
satan who is the Biblical and historical antithesis of Jesus Christ,
the Christian Messiah. A helpful perspective in evaluating the effects
and methodology of satanism is to compare it with Christianity and to
visualize an exact opposite from Christian teachings and Biblical
principles. Since satan is the antithesis of God, then what he does
and how he does it will be destructive to God's law and Godly (good
NOTE: TO MANY OF US SATANISM, PAGANISM, AND THE OCCULT SEEM TO BE
UNREAL MANIFESTATIONS OF OVERACTIVE HOLLYWOOD IMAGINATIONS. IT IS NOT
NECESSARY FOR YOU TO BELIEVE IN SATAN AS LONG AS THERE ARE THOSE IN
SOCIETY WHO DO BELIEVE IT AND WORSHIP SATAN AND CONTROL THEIR PERSONAL
Satanism generally does not include the intense ritualization seen in
pure paganism. Satanists less often construct ritual circles to ward
off demons and evil spirits because they don't care. Their desire is
to have close intercourse with satan and his demons.
Satanism comes from the root word "sata" an adjective which means
"evil." This has been personified as "satan" or the "evil one" through
the ages. Satan's first introduction is through the Biblical account
in the old testament Book of Genesis where he was represented as a
serpent who misled Eve and Adam into sinning by eating fruit from the
Tree of Life.
We see Satanism in three basic groupings today:
1. Adult Groups
2. Adult and Adolescent Groups
3. Adolescent Groups
The second group combining adults and adolescents carries with it the
most extreme potential for abuse and death of children if they are not
related to the adults in the group.
Those in Group number three, all adolescents, usually are experimenters
with satanic rituals, not sincere, involved, knowledgeable practition-
ers of pure traditions. However, ignorance of the true implications
and some of the ritualized skills does not mean that adolescent
satanism is any less dangerous. As with any other addiction, ever-
deeper involvement occurs.
Pure satanism requires intense training, initiation, screening, rituals
and rites and an upward mobility within the satanic worship structure.
Pure satanism is seen worldwide and (as with other deviant movements)
is well-established in many forms, is multi-national, and has almost
inexhaustible financial and physical resources.
Satanic rituals have some parallels with pagan rituals. Satanists also
locate a site which is isolated to insure privacy. Each satanic
worship group has its own gremoire (pronounced GRA-MORE'-AY), which is
also called the "Book of Shadows". On the the blank pages of this
book, oaths and names are written in blood. The gremoire is very
important evidence about the depth, structure, and activities of any
particular satanic group.
Recruitment into active satanism is a well-planned and subtle process
which has devastating results. Initial introductions to the subculture
of satanism are prevalent. In fact, they are seen everywhere we turn
today. Signs, symbols and influences of satanic involvement can be
observed in modern music, in the dress and activities of adolescent
peers, through television, MTV, movies, clothing, games, and drug
abuse. Since the late seventies a great deal of satanic symbolism has
publicly surfaced in wide variety. What one sees everyday he tends to
accept more easily.
Although it is easy to stereotype all heavy metal, hard rock musicians
as active satanists this is probably not true. There are some who do
practice satanic worship. Much of the "hype" seen on album covers and
in the movies are Hollywood publicists' attempts to create attention
for their products. The effect on impressionable adolescents is that
they become conversant with a wide variety of satanic symbolism and
terminology and are therefore more easily drawn into active involve-
ment, or at least away from traditional value systems.
It is interesting to note that Jimmy Page, who is the lead drummer for
Led Zepplin, lives in Alister Crowley's house in England. He is an
active satanist. Such movies as ROSEMARY'S BABY, and the EXORCIST
stress magic, the occult, and evil phenomenon which foster fear and
helplessness in the minds of those who see them.
The term "occult", an adjective, merely means "hidden or secret." The
distinction must be made about specific types of activities which we
have lumped together under one label. Modern clothing, "T" shirts and
jewelry, so popular with the youth of this nation and the world, stress
satanic and pagan symbols, representations of horrible specters, and
demons. These tie in with the fantasy role playing phenomenon which
anesthetizes chronic players to the actual spiritual implications of
satanic involvement (See "Paganism"). (There have been 55 documented
cases of deaths attributable to fantasy role playing games in the
United States out of an estimated two million active players.) The
addictive mentality(mentioned in Authoritarian Cult Groups) predisposes
some adolescents to seek involvement in spiritual/supernatural manifes-
tations. The heavy emphasis and involvement of today's youth in
illicit drugs tends to blur their distinction between reality and
fantasy opening the doors of their minds to accept and explore super-
natural phenomenon. In effect, they begin to lose touch with what is
actually real and become very vulnerable to suggestion.
Irresponsible media coverage and sensationalism contribute to the
overall attack on the stability of today's youthful minds. In addi-
tion, a strong peer acceptance and support makes it almost impossible
for those with addictive or dependent personalities to REFUSE to go
along with the group.
Active satanists use an insidious variety of approaches to entangle new
converts ever deeper into satanism. Young people, as mentioned before,
are very prone to such involvements.
Mike Warnke, in his book "The Satan Seller", documents the progression
which commonly is used to recruit new satanists. College campuses are
a hot spot for recruitment. Easy drug availability and use provide a
natural setting for recruitment. Warnke illustrated actual examples
where he, as a former satanist priest, invited young people, starting
in on the fringes of drug use, to parties where drugs and free sex were
provided. In a back room, those higher in the satanic hierarchy
prepared stronger doses of drugs which they offered freely to promising
looking recruits. In the guise of sexual orgies (with drug and alcohol
plentiful) new converts were drawn deeper into dependence on what the
satanists could provide in the way of earthly pleasures. As they gave
in to the lusts of their own desires they were drawn farther into
dependency. They developed thirsts for other things also, such as,
power and money. At each level the newcomers were scrutinized by those
initiated into higher levels in the satanic movement and the best
prospects were promoted. As the converts were initiated into the
ritual meetings of the satanists they became more and more debased in
what they did. In effect, the more detestable the ritual activity the
bigger "spiritual high" the worshippers receive. The illegal debased
acts include, but are not limited to, rape, sodomy, ritual mutilations,
child molestations, cannabalism, desecration of Christian sacraments
and ritual murder.
The impact upon youthful worshippers has a devastating effect. Impres-
sionable youths who feed on the negative and evil aspects of today's
music and rebellious media representations, experience an erosion of
the stable beliefs and value systems which give us security. As their
insecurity increases they are drawn to some type of peer support.
Involvement in the negative and illegal aspects of satan worship may
debase the individual and cause them to be tormented by tremendous
feelings of guilt and isolation because they have been unable to
completely shed the traditional values with which they were raised.
Satanism is very destructive to youth and there is much support for
suicide among teens (who so quickly run out of perceived alternatives.)
Occasionally teen peer groups will take blood oaths and make suicide
covenants, i.e: so that if one commits suicide they will all do so.
Anything which leads the youth of today to the "end of the line", where
they see no alternative but self-imposed death, must be taken serious-
ly. Because of misguided peer loyalty those who are knowledgeable
about suicide pacts often protect their friends from authorities who
would seek to prevent their suicide. By not wanting to risk ostracism
by the peer group, youths may also protect friends and acquaintances
who are involved in satanism.
Television correspondent Tom Jarrell narrated a 20/20 segment entitled,
"The Devil Worshippers." This documented a situation in Northport,
Rhode Island where teenagers were involved in the ritual killing of
another human being. In Phoenix, Arizona, officials found the carcass-
es of over 140 dead dogs and thousands of animal mutilations due to
satanic rituals. A situation in Walnut Grove, Alabama, involved the
discovery of a ritual site complete with symbols and satanic graffiti
indicating secret meetings were taking place on a regular basis. Such
things as the numerals "666", inverted crosses, closed satanic stars or
goat head stars, the "all-seeing eye", desecration of churches, refer-
ences to the "beast" and a goat's head with a pentagram on its forehead
are typical satanic symbols.
The Church of Satan, as an established entity, has been officially
recognized only in California. Its proponent is a man by the name of
Anton Levey who wrote the SATANIC BIBLE. He is involved in active
worship of satanism as a church, but denies any involvement in the
illegal activities or illicit drugs. There are countless other satanic
groups practicing rites and rituals which are very illegal. Although
chants and incantations to satan are not illegal, per se, the higher
levels of satan worship involve unequivocable violations of the law.
On that basis, official action can be taken against satanic groups and
satan worshippers individually.
A forensic pathologist was allowed to video tape portions of an actual
satanic ritual ceremony which involved mutilation of a dead human body.
The origin of the body was not represented on the tape. (A coroner
viewing the tape said that it appeared that the body was still fairly
fresh at the time of the mutilation.) Cannibalism of the heart and a
sexual orgy in the blood of the "sacrifice" were documented on the
Dr. Al Carlisle of the Utah State Prison System has estimated that
between forty and sixty thousand human beings are killed through ritual
homicides in the United States each year. Because of the level of
secrecy and the effectiveness with which satanists cover their tracks
it is impossible to completely verify this statistic. The statistic
itself is based upon an estimated number of satanists at the level
where they commit ritual human sacrifices times the frequency with
which these would be done during a calendar year. Connections between
satanists at this level, in various locales, also indicate that they
cooperate back and forth in each other's ritual sacrifices. Dr.
Carlisle estimated that in the Las Vegas metropolitan area alone six
hundred people meet their deaths during satanic ritual ceremonies each
On the tape of the satanic ceremony various ritual incantations were
repeated by the priest and the group of worshippers who were arranged
in a circle around the dead body. There was a strong emphasis on
worshipping death. At one point the priest cut open the chest cavity
of the corpse and tore out the heart which he passed around the circle
giving each worshipper the opportunity to bite a piece of the heart off
and chew it. On the video tape it appeared that the worshippers,
partaking of this cannibalism, were developing physical ecstasy. The
ceremony then degenerated as the worshippers discarded their clothing,
took blood from the body cavity of the corpse, smeared it over their
own bodies and proceeded to have a sexual orgy.
Although not every satanist group completes ritual human sacrifices,
they do partake of a wide variety of abusive sexual activities aimed at
destroying innocence which satan must truly hate because the God of
Christianity loves it. The 20/20 segment documented young juveniles,
less than 10 years of age, who were drawn into active satan worship by
their adult guardians and who assisted in the ritual slaying of other
young juveniles who were tied to the satanic altar. The children
themselves did not have the strength to force the knife into the
victim's body far enough to kill. They described, in the interview,
that as they held the knife an adult's hands assisted them in forcing
it through the body of the victim.
Generally victims bodies are effectively disposed of, usually by
cremation. The level of secrecy and commitment to satan and the
spiritual powers of darkness almost guarantee that participants do not
talk about their activities. The problem is that we have many stories
without identifiable victims. There is a need for growing awareness,
in society about the potentialities of satanic involvement. Occasion-
ally ritual murders and serial murders who have been linked to
satanic worship are apprehended and prosecuted, but too often their
stories are viewed as the exception... merely seen as a horrifying
spectacle instead of a warning about a growing movement. Most normal
people would rather not think about the horrors involved; They cannot
easily accept the weight of the facts and their implications.
More and more frequently children and adolescents are becoming the
victims of ritual molestations and/or sacrifice. This is primarily
because the more innocent and virginal the victim, the more satan,
supposedly, likes it and therefore more power is imbued to the
satanist. Children are much easier to recruit as potential victims
than are adults. It is easier for satanists to kidnap them at a young
age and move them from place to place.
Adolescents have become very mobile in this society. They often run
away or are displaced by disintegrating family structures. They are
easily drawn into the victim role because no one with responsibility
has an awareness of where they are or what they are doing.
(Compilation of notes and material received at the I.P.T.M. Cults,
Sects, and Deviant Movements Seminar, Jacksonville, Florida, in
March, 1986. Lt. L. M. Jones, Boise Police Department.)
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank