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Eric Pryor - The "Witch Who Switched" (part 1)|
by Kerr Cuhulain
When Pryor, who claims that his craft name was "Lord Gandolf", first became known to the Wiccans in the Bay area of California, he had set up what he called the "New Earth Temple". This was described by the press as nothing more "than his dismal Tenderloin apartment." Pryor originally claimed that he had "75 followers." Pryor later upped this claim, claiming that "'tens of thousands across the country' once practised under his leadership." Pryor announced in Salem on 6 June 1992 that he had been the High Priest of both "the New Earth Temple", "the New Earth Fellowship of Man Kind" and the "Cinema of Transgression." In an auto-biography given to journalist Bob Hansen in 1996, Pryor reported that, "Seeking relief from an abusive upbringing... [Pryor] often escaped to the library, where he discovered the Earth Star Temple in Manhattan, where he spent a short period of time 'exchanging sex for training in Occult Sciences." The story gets bigger with every telling.
In an attempt establish his credentials, Pryor made the following claims, adding that the individuals involved would vouch for him:
Pryor claims that he was trained and initiated by Herman Slater, proprietor of the Magickal Childe store in New York. Pryor says that he first met Slater when he was 12. He further claims to have written many of the rituals in A Book of Pagan Rituals edited by Herman Slater (Weiser, 1978).
In an interview by Alexandria North for the BAPA newsletter, the following exchange took place:
- Pryor claims that he studied with Lady Sabrina of Our Lady of Enchantment, a Wiccan seminary.
- Pryor claims that he studied with Carol Bulzone of the store Enchantments.
- Pryor claims that he received ordination from the Gavin and Yvonne Frost's Church of Wicca.
- Pryor claims that he received initiation as a third degree Gardnerian from priestess Rolla Nordic.
- Pryor claims that he worked with Witches' League for Public Awareness (WLPA) founder Laurie Cabot in Salem, MA.
- Pryor claims that he worked with Pagan musicians Kenny and Tzipora Klein.
- Pryor claims to have been a board member of the Bay Area Pagan Assemblies (BAPA).
North: "You use the title of Reverend- how did you become ordained?"
A great deal of research has been done into these claims by me, as well as by BAPA and Covenant of the Goddess. The results are as follows:
Pryor: "Well, I'm a Welsh High Priest and I'm also a High Priest in the Gardnerian Tradition. And, when I was ordained, or got my priesthood, they had gave me a certificate of ordainment, and its a blanket ordainment. It says Church of Wicca, because that's the way its recognized in the Federal statutes. So, it's not that I can say that I'm a Pentecostal minister, or a Methodist minister. I'm a Wiccan."
North: "You have a PhD? How did you get that?"
Pryor: "It's an honourary doctorate from the APRA, American Parapsychology Research Association. I am a bonafide parapsychologist."
Pryor was apparently initiated into the Welsh tradition by Slater's High Priestess some years ago. Slater first met Pryor when he was 17, five years later than the date claimed by Pryor. Slater said that he thought he remembered Pryor being initiated into the Welsh tradition by Lady Rhea. However, Carol Bulzone, who was present at every initiation done by Lady Rhea since 1975 and was, in fact, the custodian for the measures from those rituals, states that Rhea never initiated Pryor.
A Book of Pagan Rituals was first published in two volumes in 1974 and 1975. If Pryor's claim is correct, then he must have written parts of it when he was only 14 years of age, before he met the editor, Slater. Although the authors of A Book of Pagan Rituals are not named, Herman Slater assured us that Pryor was not one of the authors involved. Pryor has attempted to refute this, stating that questions of authorship could be cleared up by contacting "Ed Buzinski." Pryor is obviously not aware that not only is Ed's name spelled Buczynski, but that Ed had been dead for over a year at the time of Pryor making this suggestion.
Lady Sabrina has never heard of Pryor and there is no record of him having ever taken the mail order course offered by Our Lady of Enchantment.
In a formal statement signed by Rolla Nordic and two witnesses, Rolla has attested that she does not know Pryor, either within the Craft or socially. Rolla couldn't have initiated Pryor into a Gardnerian or Alexandrian tradition in any case, since she is exclusively a practitioner of the Welsh tradition. In fact, in early January, 1991, after the uproar in San Francisco and after Pryor's conversion to Christianity, Pryor sent Rolla Nordic an initiation certificate, made up by Pryor himself with a covering letter dated 91-1-4, asking Rolla to sign it. The certificate stated that Pryor was initiated by Rolla in the spring of 1977. Of course Rolla did not sign it. This appears to have been an attempt by Pryor to shore up his credentials after the fact. I have copies of Pryor's correspondence with Rolla, as well as her statement.
Laurie Cabot has confirmed that Pryor has never been associated with her or the WLPA. As you will see later in this article, Pryor called her "Laurie Carbot" in his public appearances, a fairly clear indication that he has never met her and therefore doesn't know how to spell or pronounce her name.
The Frost's have never heard of Pryor and have no record of him as a mail order student. He was certainly not ordained by them. Pryor refuses to this day to produce any ordination papers to substantiate his claims.
Carole Bulzone has never heard of Pryor and confirms that he has never worked in her store Enchantments.
When I asked Pryor simple questions to which an initiated Gardnerian would have the answers, Pryor was consistently unable to provide the correct answers.
While Pryor briefly held a BAPA membership card, he has never been on their board of directors or held any other office in that organization.
Pau Roefs, Pryor's uncle, states that Pryor left home at the age of 14 "to live a life of debauchery, prostitution, drugs, alcohol, violence and Satan worship." Roefs reports that about the time that Pryor joined Jubilee Christian Center, Pryor stopped seeing his psychiatrist, discontinued his medications, and returned to alcoholism and destructive behaviour.
The following is an excerpt from the Volume XXIV, No 93 (Litha 1991) issue of the Church of All Worlds magazine The Green Eggwhich outlines some of Pryor's background:
"Diane Hortsmyer in Vermont, a close friend of Eric's ex-wife, Nichole, told Otter that Nichole and Eric met in 1981 or '82, when he was trying to seduce young boys into his Satanic trip. Eric has a long history of alcoholism, violence and abusiveness. Once he was arrested for shooting out the windows of his house when Nichole and their son Nicholas were inside. When he was jailed for being in a drunken brawl, the police discovered that he had an outstanding warrant in Texas for armed robbery. He proposed marriage to Nichole to avoid extradition and they were wed in prison, where he stayed several months. When the AIDS issue hit, Eric did a stunt as an "AIDS Crusader." He got someone to let him have a white stallion to ride across the country to "raise consciousness and money for AIDS." This got him a spread in the local paper, plus TV exposure. As to the money raised... who knows? Finally, the abuses got too much for Nichole and she bailed. About a year later ('88), Eric turned up in San Francisco, phoned Nichole and convinced her to come join him, but the reunion was short lived. According to Diane, Eric "will go where the light is shining brightest and the money is flowing fre-est!
"Tzipora Klein recalls that Eric was around New York's Earth Star Temple in 1977, when he was friends with a notorious local Satanist named Pete Colon. Kenny first met Eric around Samhain, 1982, when Kenny was reading cards at a tea parlour in NYC. In walked Eric in full Satanic regalia, claiming that he had a 3rd degree initiation from Herman Slater and wanting a job reading cards. When Eric and Nichole were homeless street people, Kenny let them use his shower until in 1984 Eric showed up having been severely beaten. Kenny gave him a blanket and a deck of Tarot cards and sent him on his way.
"They hadn't seen him since, until about a month before last Samhain . Kenny and Tzipora were doing an Earth First! benefit at Ancient Ways in Oakland, California, and Eric showed up dressed right fancy with his current lady, Cassandra, who was head-to-toe leather and spikes. Eric told them that he'd just come into a lot of money and was working with Jubilee Christian Center to set up a big benefit concert for the homeless, for which he wanted to get Kenny and Tzip to perform. He also mentioned that he was setting up the anti- Larry Lea demonstration. He inquired after a chalice he'd given Kenny & Tzip to hold back in 1983, telling them to keep it and asking them to come to his place where he had a wand he wanted to give them "to protect it". From what?..."
The protest that The Green Egg is referring to here occurred on Halloween night in 1990. Pentecostal evangelist Dick Bernal teamed up with Texas televangelist Larry Lea in San Francisco to organize a mass "Prayer Breakthrough" meeting by "Prayer Warriors." Lea was the host of the Dallas based show "Change Your Life." Bernal was the founder of the Jubilee Christian Center, a Pentecostal church with a congregation of about 5,000. The purpose of this "Prayer Breakthrough" meeting was to "attack... the satanic forces of witchcraft, drugs and perversion in San Francisco." Bernal was quoted as saying that they "We're praying to God for people, all people, against the powers of darkness. The ultimate goal is to save the fallen angels of the city from Satan, from evil immorality."
You will note that this information from The Green Eggindicates that Pryor was in contact with Jubilee Christian Center and making plans with them before his Prayer Crusade protest. It also indicates that while Pryor certainly had been an acquaintance of Kenny and Tzipora, he certainly didn't work with them and they certainly don't endorse him now. It is also odd that Pryor should ask them to do a concert for the same people (Jubilee Christian Center) who were sponsoring the person he told them he wanted to protest against (Larry Lea).
I met with Kenny and Tzipora at the 1992 Heartland Festival in Kansas City. Kenny confirmed the content of this Green Egg article. Kenny then added that Pryor had done time for robbery in Texas and that he understood that the prison chaplain there was Larry Lea. If this is so, then this would explain how Pryor came to be in contact with Lea.
Pryor first came to the attention of California Pagans when he called the Bay Area Pagan Assemblies (BAPA) to inform them that he was planning a demonstration against Lea at the crusade site and had informed the media of his intentions. He told BAPA that he was a Wiccan High Priest of the New Earth Temple. As a result, members of BAPA, CoG and various other organizations attended this protest on 30 October 1990. Participants included Z Budapest and many interested civilians. This protest did not go as was expected, as can be seen from the following account of it in a news release by Leah Samul of BAPA:
"Pryor had a black candle that represented Larry Lea and he began the ritual/demonstration by saying that he was going to send Lea's negative energy back into the crusade hall. But the candle wouldn't light, so Pryor improvised. He saw Z Budapest and invited her into the center of the circle referring to her as 'a very special lady'. He gave her a broom to charge and use to swat the candle, saying that the candle was like a pet that might misbehave and not obey you- so you give it a swat. Unfortunately, he then offered the broom to anyone else who wanted to come into the center and hit the candle. But many of the participants were very likely not aware of the magickal implications of the candle, so they directed the full force of their angry emotional response at it. And Pryor himself came forward and stabbed the candle with great force, cutting it in half. Although Janet Christian of BAPA told Pryor this was not appropriate, he explained his actions by saying that people should take out their anger on the candle and not on Lea's person. But anyone with even the smallest amount of magickal training knows that when an object has been charged, it is the person it represents; the medium is the message! This apparently did not occur to Pryor. At this point, a number of Witches pulled away from the circle and began to do countering magick. Ironic that Witches would actually be working to protect Lea."
Pryor later wrote a letter blaming Z Budapest for dominating at certain points of the ritual. I have viewed a video tape of this ritual however, and it is clear that this is not the case.
In video news segments later assembled in Jubilee Christian Center's video "From Pagan to Pentecost", Pryor appears in his apartment temple, referring to the temple as the "covendom" and to the Cone of Power as a "Witch's Pyramid". As he leads Bernal on a tour of the temple, Pryor points out the Necronomicon Spellbook, and identifies it as an ancient book, one of the most evil ever written. Pryor is obviously blissfully unaware that the Necronomicon is a famous hoax perpetrated by fantasy author H.P. Lovecraft.
The day following this protest Pryor appeared in a panel discussion on a local TV talk show called "People Are Talking." Besides various individuals that alleged that they had been possessed by the Devil, the panel included Dick Bernal and Bernie Ward, the host of a radio show called "Godtalk." Samul reports that "Pryor reenacted a small portion of a 36 hour long exorcism which he did on a young woman who turned out to be his girlfriend. The footage showed him kneeling over her and making stabbing motions with his athame while chanting in what Pryor claimed was Hebrew." In this segment Pryor's girlfriend Cassandra refers to Pryor as a doctor, which he most certainly is not. In a letter published in the San Jose Mercury News, Pryor tried to explain this by stating: "Does the term witch doctor ring a bell to any of you at the Mercury?" This inaccurate and bizarre portrayal of what Pryor represented as a Wiccan ceremony undoubtedly did a lot of public relations damage and ignited a storm of protest from the Pagan community members who watched it on TV.
That evening Pryor was the guest of Reverend Bernal. Pryor was evidently impressed with this. "According to Pryor, 'They guarded off the area because there were a lot of Christians who wanted to meet me, they saw the show, and people who wanted to touch me, and there was this whole St Paul syndrome that they had about me'." Bernal's hospitality continued the weekend after the crusade too. Bernal sent a car to pick Pryor up and put him up in a hotel for the weekend so that he could attend Bernal's church services as his guest.
The weekend following this Pryor converted to Christianity. This occurred on 17 November, 1991. Pryor allowed members of Jubilee Christian Center to come into his apartment temple and ritualistically burn his ritual implements: This might explain Pryor's odd request to Kenny Klein a month earlier about storing ritual implements for him. The JCC gave Pryor the use of two cars and an office at JCC. Bernal has also admitted to have given Pryor an undisclosed sum of money: Bernal later admitted to a journalist for the Mercury News that he had given Pryor a small income of $500 per month. This is at odds with a San Francisco Chronicle article by Herb Caen which claims that Pryor made $100,000 last year from his work with the JCC. Later in this article you will see that Pryor confirms this in an attempt to recruit a Wiccan in Salem. In 1996 Bernal told a journalist for the Metro newspaper that Pryor did not get a salary from Jubilee, claiming that Pryor was simply a member and not on staff. Bernal admitted that Pryor got to pocket the donations of all of the services that he holds there. Pryor told the same reporter that he was barely making enough to get by on, but admitted that he charges between $1,700 to $3,000 for a 90 minute service at other churches, plus expenses for travel and accommodations. Pryor claimed that most of this money "goes toward feeding and clothing the poor." In 1998 Pryor changed his story again, telling journalist Traci Hukill that he made $20,000 per appearance at Jubilee.
On 30 November 1991 Pryor married Cassandra in a ceremony at JCC which was videotaped. The problem with this was that he was still legally married to Nichole Pryor. On ABC's Prime Time Liveshow in the summer of 1991, Diane Sawyer revealed that Pryor was not required to pay child support, since he was destitute at the time of his original separation from Nichole. Once Pryor started making big money with the JCC, he still didn't make support payments. Bernal has since tried to brush this "marriage" off, claiming that it wasn't really a marriage ceremony and that it only looked like one because Pryor got carried away with the wedding plans and it got too dressed up and formalized. I acquired a video tape of the marriage and it certainly looks like a formal marriage ceremony to me.
Pryor went on to operate out of the Jubilee Christian Center. He founded a sub-ministry called Christian Gladiator Ministries. Pryor referred to himself in correspondence as "a Christian Soldier" or "a Christian Gladiator." Larry Lea described Pryor in an address at the JCC on 6 January, 1992 as "a converted general in the Devil's army". Pryor appeared on Larry Lea's "Change Your Life" TV show on 28 January 1992 with Dick Bernal. The following conversation took place on this program:
Bernal: "Eric Pryor, he's the High Priest of the New Earth Temple. He's the Chief Wiccan of the Wicca Cult... Our prayer, and I hope you're praying with us, is that this man, who could be the key to this city, a key man, a man who influences the activists, influences many of the homosexual people here, who influences the Pagan community. This is their leader. He's like a Paul. A man who persecuted the Christians, but because of this [Prayer] Breakthrough, there's been a breakthrough in his life."
Pryor appeared again the next day on Lea's program. During this program:
Pryor: "The Wiccan community, we had a binding circle the day before [the Prayer Crusade] that got out of hand and because of the negative energy that got into the circle, actually Satan got into the circle that time, I do believe that because it would up becoming an actual cursing. The next day..."
Lea: "Now, this was directed at me personally?"
Pryor: "Yeah. Well, my attitude was that the best defence is a good offence, and while I believed that I should bind any negative energy, any negative militant energy coming from you there, that it would come back on you to destroy you, I also believed 'Well, I might as well stick in the knife a little bit more, just to make good and sure'..."
Lea: "When you first came [to the Prayer Crusade], you came as a, I think, as someone who was honestly looking to see what was going on, but you came with an agenda too."
Pryor: "Yes, I did have an agenda. With reference to my temple, we were taking a very militant stance because we thought that First Amendment Rights would be violated, Witch hunts, etc, etc. So my hidden agenda was, uh, my primary goal was to see what you were doing, okay, and something inside my heart was really seeking the Lord, very passionately. I had been Born Again 15 years ago, but went back into the Craft and I knew nothing of a personal relationship with Christ. But my other agenda was that as a representative of the Wiccan community, as a representative of the New Earth Temple, as a High Priest, as a minister of this particular faith, it was my duty to go into this Crusade and to see what you were doing, and if during that Crusade I found you to be practising Witch-burning, to be practising Gay-bashing, to be practising any form of militarism that would breed hatred or violence or something, I was going to do my best to terminate you."
Lea: "You know, that was a real revelation to me. We just talked about this today and Eric informed me, he said 'You know, if a true Witch or someone who's really into Witchcraft, if they perceive that you are going to bash them, are going to try to block them from doing what, by the Constitution, they have the legal right to do in our nation, they're just as prone to shoot you as they are to pronounce a curse on you.' And you told me that that night that your were prepared to do that if you found us to be that kind of people."
Pryor: "Well, that's true. [But it didn't turn out to be necessary]"
Lea said that "the Witch came against us, that cursed us. He told me himself he carried a gun in his boot prepared, in his own words, to 'take me out', came under conviction and was saved. I want you to hear Eric Pryor for yourself." Lea introduced Pryor as the "leader of over 50,000 Pagans."
Pryor said that he had 'sought the Lord through the Craft and ceremonial magick, even through Satanism, as bizarre as that may sound."
Pryor said that he was born again at the age of 15 and was a Baptist. Lea said that he saw a photo of Pryor when he was 14 years old and was already "deeply into Witchcraft", already had a "mentor", and already had people acknowledging his power.
(Continued... Click HERE for page II)
Kerr's Bio: Kerr Cuhulain the author of this article, is known to the mundane world as Detective Constable Charles A Ennis of the Vancouver Police Department, Youth Services Unit. Ennis, a child abuse investigator for the VPD, is the author of several articles on child abuse investigation that appeared in Law & Order Magazine. Better known to the Pagan community by his Wiccan name, Kerr Cuhulain, Ennis was the first Wiccan police officer to go public about his beliefs 25 years ago. Kerr is now the spokesperson for Officers of Avalon. Kerr went on to write three books: The Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca (Horned Owl Publishing) as well as Wiccan Warrior and Full Contact Magick: A Book of Shadows for the Wiccan Warrior. (Llewellyn Publications).
Email Kerr: firstname.lastname@example.org
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