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Bill Schnoebelen's "Little White Lies" (part 1)|
by Kerr Cuhulain
Bill Schnoebelen, author of Wicca: Satan's Little White Lie, can be very persuasive, even though he is not a very good speaker. What makes Schnoebelen's stories seem more credible to his audiences is the fact that he dabbled in Wicca in the past, making it possible for him to add little bits of the truth in with the falsehoods that he preaches. Over the years he and his wife Alexandria have tried many different spiritual paths, seeking one which would satisfy his obviously intense desire to have power over others. It is hardly surprising then to learn that he has finally become a fundamentalist Christian who lectures against anything other than fundamentalist Christianity.
Schnoebelen initially claimed that in 1968 he was initiated into the Alexandrian tradition of Wicca by a woman in Boston who was herself initiated by Alex Sanders, the founder of this tradition. Schnoebelen claimed that he made it to the 2nd degree and possibly to the 3rd around 1973. In his book Wicca, Satan's Little White Lie, Schnoebelen claims that he was "initiated into the Alexandrian Wicca on Imbolc, February 2, 1973 and made a High Priest and Magus in September of the same year... and studied under Gavin and Yvonne Frost and their Church and School of Wicca." My research has revealed that the only claim here that is true is that Schnoebelen studied Wicca through correspondence courses from Gavin and Yvonne Frost's Church and School of Wicca. Schnoebelen also obtained credentials from the California based Egyptian group the Church of the Eternal Source, also through correspondence courses.
Schnoebelen also claims "That summer [of 1973] my lady and I were also promoted to the High Priestly rank in the Druidic Craft of the Wise." The truth of this is that Schnoebelen obtained a certificate from a pseudo Wiccan group called the "Mental Science Institute". Reverend Dr. J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion, describes the Mental Science Institute (now defunct) as follows:
"Mental Science Institute: Eli Taylor, who is the grand master of what is termed druidic witchcraft, is a descendant of Thomas Hartley who was burned at the stake for practising witchcraft in England in the early 1550's... the Mental Science Institute was organized in the late 1960's as a focus for Taylor's brand of herbal magick.
"He traces his particular kind of witchcraft to the druids, and it is thus termed druidic... The Mental Science Institute is the most male oriented of all the Wicca groups and has a theology closely related to Western ritual magick and Christianity. The universe is seen in a series of levels- celestial, terrestrial and telestial. The celestial is divided into sublevels at the top of which is God the Father, followed by the Lord of Lights, arc-angels and angels. Man, animals and plants are on the terrestrial level. At the lowest level, the telestial level, are the mineral, chemical and electrical elements and creative thought. Just as there is a Father, there is a Mother of all men.
"In a concept very close to Mormon theology, the Mental Science Institute teaches that the Father must at one time have been a child. The children of God will, in like measure, become gods. Reincarnation is part of that process...
"The Mental Science Institute is headquartered in Minneapolis and has covens throughout the Midwest. A Word to the Wise is a monthly newsletter."
Schnoebelen claim that he was a member of the Druidic Craft of the Wise in the early 1970's, is an obvious reference to his association with Taylor's group. It will be useful to keep this information in mind, since you will later see that this is where Schnoebelen gets some of his current ideas about Wicca being linked to the Mormon church.
Schnoebelen was briefly ordained as Catholic bishop as a member of an "Old Catholic Order." I described the "Old Catholic Orders" in my earlier article about Michael Warnke. Warnke received similar ordinations. You will recall that these Orders are independent of the Catholic church and, as Reverend Melton puts it, of "questionable validity."
The "Old Catholic" group that Schnoebelen was a part of was led by Edward Stehlik. Stehlik claimed to be the "Archbishop and Metropolitan of North America, American National Catholic Church." In fact, Stehlik was a fraud: He was not a Roman Catholic priest and had no theological training at all. Stehlik's group has long since dissolved.
Schnoebelen also briefly studied with the Church of All Worlds. He was thrown out of the Church of All Worlds by co- founder Morning Glory G'Zell before he made 4th circle (CAW has seven circles or levels of initiation). This was because Morning Glory thought that Schnoebelen was "power tripping."
One of Schnoebelen's more recent claims was that he joined Anton LaVey's Church of Satan and "was finally made a Warlock." There is no proof of this.
Schnoebelen took these bits and pieces of religious experience and started up his own rigorous training program for his own brand of "Wicca" in the Milwaukee area. Many people in this area apparently received training from him. He will be remembered by many Pagans in the Midwest under his alias in the late 60's and through the 70's: "Christopher Pendragon Syn."
Several of my sources have reported Schnoebelen's power hungry attitude and condescending manner. Author Brad Hicks reports:
"Bill's stated ambition was to be the number one ruling Witch in Wisconsin. He wanted to be a Magus, with 13 full covens under him (and he managed it briefly, or so he claims.) Apparently, the whole titles/credentials bit, and the training course, were both authority trips for him."
One of Hick's sources reported that when he first showed up at his circle, Schnoebelen "wasted no time in letting them know just how much more 'advanced' he was than them, and how much contempt he had for them."
Schnoebelen claims that he started covens all over the Midwest, specifically in Dubuque, Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago. Schnoebelen claims to have initiated over 170 people. He states "We were, up until our departure from the city of Milwaukee in 1984, presiding over the oldest and largest network of covens in the southern Wisconsin area."
For some unknown reason, in 1984 Schnoebelen and his wife moved to Iowa and cut off all contact with his former Pagan associates. He had his name changed back to Bill Schnoebelen and became a Mormon. After dabbling in Mormonism for a while, Schnoebelen changed his mind again and became a "born again Christian." This was when Schnoebelen began actively claiming that he was a former member of the international Satanic conspiracy.
Schnoebelen was first supported in these activities by Ed Decker, the pastor of Saints Alive In Jesus, in Issaquah, Washington. Decker used to tour about North America lecturing against Mormons and Freemasons with Dr. Walter Martin (now deceased), the founder of the Christian Research Institute (CRI). Decker went on to appear shows such as Marlin Maddoux's fundamentalist Christian talk show "Point of View" and Christian Research Institute's "Bible Answer Man" radio program. Decker has made some rather bizarre statements about the practices of Mormons, Freemasons, and Wiccans, based on material which he has obtained from Schnoebelen.
The Witches League for Public Awareness wrote to Decker about his inaccurate statements about Wicca and Mormons, but Decker did not reply himself, forwarding the letter to Schnoebelen instead. Schnoebelen entered into a long, rambling and ultimately unproductive correspondence with the WLPA, giving vague and evasive answers to their queries. Ed Decker paid no attention to these criticisms.
Schnoebelen makes very bizarre claims about his background in his lectures to Christian groups. Schnoebelen brings up his former Pagan and Mormon activities and mixes this with all manner of falsehoods, using the few real parts to try to give credibility to the more numerous fantasies. Schnoeblen now claims that "About a year after becoming a high priest (1974) I was told by my initiators that actually Wicca was not what it seems." He claims that he was introduced to a very high level Witch in Arkansas or Chicago who was named "Hieronymous" who revealed that Witchcraft was really Satanism and taught Satanic practices to him. If "Hieronymous" really existed I can find no evidence of him. Certainly no one by this name was affiliated to any known religious group with which Schnoebelen was associated.
Other claims made by Schnoebelen include the following:
"The only Witches prior to the 1980's were in fact, classical satanists".
NOTE: This is absurd. Gerald Gardner, the founder of Gardnerian Wiccan became public back in the early 1950's. Alex Sanders, the founder of the Alexandrian tradition that Schnoebelen (falsely) claims to have been initiated into became public shortly thereafter. There are numerous books by Gardner and various Alexandrians trained by Sanders such as the Farrars still in print which clearly demonstrate that there is nothing in their beliefs or practices that is Satanic.
"...if you aren't a satanist yet its only because you haven't gotten that far yet".
NOTE: Here once again is the common argument advanced by Satanic Conspiracy theorists: If you can't find evidence to substantiate his claims you just haven't looked hard enough yet.
"By the time of my tenth anniversary in the Craft, I had found it necessary to become a full fledged satanist".
The claims that Schnoebelen makes in his live "testimonies" to Christian audiences are even more bizarre. I have collected several audio tapes of his presentations. In them Schnoebelen claims to have been taught magic in an unnamed "liberal seminary" in the Midwest, from which he graduated as a Witch. At the time that Schnoebelen was associating with the Pagan community there was no such seminary anywhere in the US: Schnoebelen is probably referring to his correspondence courses with the Church and School of Wicca. Here is a sample of some of Schnoebelen's other outrageous claims from a tape recording of one of his testimonies to a church group in Canada:
Schnoebelen claims that after leaving the seminary he went out and founded a coven. He then met his wife whom he then considered to be his "soul mate". He then goes on to say: "We worked very hard in the Midwest. This was in Dubuque, Iowa and, uh, finally we were noticed by the Grand Master of all Witches in North America and, uh, he invited us down. 'Cause you see there's a Grand Master for every continent. There's one for South America and there's one in North America and there's one in Europe and so on. And he was down in Arkansas, of all places, and he invited us down there to study to receive the high priesthood, uh, of Witchcraft. And actually we were very, very pleased about this. So we went down there and spent the summer. And there is where we really started learning things. 'Cause this guy was a really heavy dude and, and among other things, he told us that the priesthood of Witchcraft was called the 'Order of Melchizedek.' And he's this kind of mysterious fellow who pops up in the book of Genesis, brings out offerings of bread and wine, Abram pays him tithe and then he sort of wanders off and we never hear from him again and he is alluded to in the book of Rev, pardon me, in the book of Hebrews. And the funny thing is, is that there it says that Jesus Christ is the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. It doesn't say that there is any other High Priest... The problem is that many occult orders and many secret societies like, like the Masons and even the Mormons of course claim to have a Melchizedek priesthood. And so do Witches..."
NOTE: There is no title of Grand Master in any Wiccan tradition. It is a Masonic term. The Melchizedek priesthood is an order within the Mormon church. At the age of twelve young Mormon males become deacons in the "Aaronite priesthood", later graduating at the age of 18 to the "Melchizedek priesthood". There is no "priesthood of Melchizedek" or hierarchy in Wicca as Schnoebelen claims.
Melchizedek is an old Caananite name variously translated as "My Name is [the god] Sedek" or "My King is Righteousness." Melchizedek appears as the king of Salem in Genesis 14:18. Later in the Bible Salem is identified as Jerusalem (Psalm 76:2). Genesis describes Melchizedek as a "priest of God Most High", in this case the Canaanite God Elyon. Elyon was the name of God used by the Zadokite sect, where the Levite sect that Abram (Abraham) belonged to used the Caananite name Yahweh (Jehovah). Melchizedek appears before Abram and gives him wine and bread. Abraham then gives him a tithe.
Melchizedek next appears in Psalms 110:4, a psalm of David, in which the Lord calls David "...a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek". This is in reference to a future messiah in the Davidic line. Later in Hebrews 5:6, Christ is told by God: "Thou art my son, today I have begotten thee; ...Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek... being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek." And in Hebrews 6:20 to Hebrews 7:3: "...where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him; and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever."
Melchizedek is obviously a prototype for the messiah who appears later in the Bible. The concept of a messiah is foreign to Wiccan religion. Schnoebelen is mixing terms and titles from several different religions here.
"...and the other thing that this guy told us at the time is that if, uh, he gave a prophecy, 'cause Witches do that too. And he said that towards the end of the 70s that the tide that was now cresting in which Witchcraft was being fairly respectable, that we would, we would really be able to, uh, that we would start seeing a resurgence of what he called bigotry. That means Christianity to a Witch. 'Cause Witches look at Christians and all they think of is bigots and people that don't let them have their fun. So, um, so he said that, uh, that this, this, would happen and that if this ever occurred that we should feel free if we were in any kind of trouble or danger to flee to a church that had been founded by witches and by sorcerers for the express purpose of outwardly seeming to be a holy Christian very conservative church, but inwardly was actually the same gospel that Witchcraft taught. He told us then that the name of that Church was the Mormon Church..."
NOTE: It is ironic that Schnoebelen should point out here that he believes Wiccans to be bigots, in light of the preposterous claims that he is making here. The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints (Mormons) was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith. Smith, the son of an impoverished farmer, claimed to have received golden tablets from an angel named Moroni, which were later translated into the Book of Mormon (a sort of cross between Moses receiving the Ten Commandments and Mohammed being visited by the angel Gabriel). The first appearance of Wicca was in 1949, when Gardner first published books describing it. This was 119 years later, and has nothing to do with angels delivering messages from a Judeo Christian God.
"We went out to win the world for Lucifer and, uh, we were setting up things, and covens all over the Midwest. At one time we had over 180 people under us. We went from town to town and literally preached the gospel of Witchcraft and, uh, the funny thing is that as we proceeded in this we discovered that the more you do this the more you end up with needing more power..."
NOTE: Lucifer is a Biblical figure, not a Wiccan one. Nor do Wiccans believe in proselytizing. And Wiccans do not have any equivalent to Scripture, so it is hard to explain how Schnoebelen figures that they would be "preaching the gospel" of Witchcraft.
"We can't as Witches get enough of the other spirit so its like being a drug addict. We kept needing more and more..."
NOTE: Schnoebelen isn't specific about what "the other spirit" is supposed to be. Schnoebelen appears to be projecting what he wanted Wicca, Old Roman Catholicism and Mormonism to be for him here rather than what it turned out to be, causing him to search elsewhere.
"Finally what happened was we discovered that the real source of all of this power was the dark side of Lucifer who is Satan. And at this point I discovered that I had to sell my soul to the Devil in order to proceed any further and of course where everybody always, you know, thinks of, of, uh, Witches as a , a, at some point they sell their souls to the Devil..."
NOTE: Does this then mean that Schnoebelen believes that Lucifer has a light side? It would certainly seem to be the case from this statement. It is inconceivable that Wiccans would sell their soul to an entity that they do not believe exists. Not that they would have any reason to sell their soul to anyone in the first place.
"Well, I, uh, need to explain one thing. There are what are called white Witches. They're deceived, they're lost, they're going to Hell. They don't know though that they worship Lucif, uh, Satan. They think that they worship Lucifer or else they think that they worship a mother goddess or both. They, they have, just like the Mormons, have a heavenly father and a heavenly mother and they believe that, that they're just good people who are worshipping the forces of nature. What they don't realize is that their own higher ups, their own high priesthood and elders priesthood and people who are beyond that are actually Satan worshippers and are just deceiving them."
NOTE: Here is that same argument that he used earlier: There is a secret higher level that doesn't tell the newer members what they really worship. As I pointed out before, this is an argument created to try to explain the obvious lack of evidence to substantiate the claims of such Christians.
Schnoebelen praised Mike Warnke highly in this tape. He related an incident where he claims that Warnke came to preach in Milwaukee (where Schnoebelen says he was then working) and Schnoebelen says that he showed up with 200 black robed witches and sat behind the hearing impaired section of Warnke's crusade. He says that he telegrammed Warnke's hotel to tell Warnke that if he said one word against Witchcraft, Schnoebelen would sue him as they were a legally incorporated church. Schnoebelen states: "And yet about a half a dozen of us were card carrying Satanists at the time."
NOTE: Getting two hundred witches together full regalia and marching them into an even larger group of unsympathetic fundamentalist Christians in Milwaukee almost 30 years ago would have been nearly impossible. One would expect a public confrontation of that scale to have made the news. It didn't. Warnke makes no mention of such an incident in any of his books or albums.
"If you're not going to Heaven then you're in deep trouble and it doesn't matter if you worship Mohammed or whether you worship Buddha or whether you worship Lucifer and Diana. So, in any event, I had to make a pact with the Devil. And I did so, I, I, uh, um, cut my wrist and signed my name in blood in a little black book and, um, went through the usual pact in which I would get seven years of anything I wanted on earth..."
NOTE: An interesting claim, yet it seems that Schnoebelen either asked for very little or else his alleged contract wasn't honoured. Note how he is denouncing Islam and Buddhism here. Remember how earlier Schnoebelen was referring to Wiccans as "bigots"?
"What is funny is even in Satanism you have a bureaucracy and we had to send in a cheque to the Church of Satan. When that cheque came back from the bank some lady had written on it 'I'll be praying for you in the name of Jesus'..."
NOTE: The only legally incorporated Church of Satan at the time period that Schnoebelen was referring to was the one founded by Anton LeVay in 1966 in California. If this is the organization to which Schnoebelen is referring, then he is obviously exaggerating, because it is nowhere near the size suggested by Schnoebelen's ramblings. The total membership of all Satanic organizations including the Church of Satan at that time was maybe 5,000 members worldwide. Schnoebelen was never a member of Anton LaVey's Church of Satan.
"...because that's what most Witches believe. They believe that the God of the Old Testament is basically trying to spoil people's fun with things like 'Thou shalt not commit adultery', things like that..."
NOTE: Witches don't believe that the "God of the Old Testament" exists, so why would they give any credence to the alleged words of a non existent deity?
"The Witches could sue Joseph Smith for stealing their ceremonies..."
NOTE: Joseph Smith founded the Mormon church in 1830. It is interesting to see Schnoebelen contradicting himself here. Earlier he alleges that the Witches created the Mormon church as a refuge for Wiccans on the run from the law. Now he is suggesting that the Mormon founder stole Wiccan ritual. As I pointed out a few paragraphs ago, Wicca in its modern form did not emerge until 1949, 119 years after the foundation of the Mormon Church. Therefore Joseph Smith could not possibly have borrowed from Wiccan rituals. Neither allegation is historically correct.
This sort of maligning of Wicca, took up roughly half of this tape, with the rest being an attack on the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons)
(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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