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Article ID: 8939
Age Group: Adult
Posted: January 16th. 2005
The Cycle Continues
by Kerr Cuhulain
It is a curious thing that even though there has been a great deal of interest in my Witch Hunts column, there have recently been some people suggesting to me that the need for such columns and for books such as my upcoming Witch Hunts book has passed. There are people in the Pagan community who think that we’ve won our battles and have achieved unassailable recognition. They suggest that the Satanic Panic of the 80s and 90s has been finally put to rest. So why would I write this series and base a book upon it? The cycle of this particular “Witch Hunt” has finally drawn to a close, hasn’t it?
If only that were true.
You’ll recall that last May I posted a Witch Hunts article concerning how the March 2004 issue of Law Enforcement Technology magazine featured an inaccurate article on investigating “ritualistic crime” by Ronnie Garret: Policing the Shadows. In this article I told you of Mark Rizzo and his Freedom Flyer Ministries: Mark had been working hard to infiltrate law enforcement agencies in order to recruit police to his crusade against anything he considered Satanic. Rizzo taught several courses on SRA at the National Gang Conference in 2003, masquerading as an FBI agent. At the 2004 conference the FBI caught up with him and arrested him for this impersonation. Last June I posted my Witch Hunts article on police chaplain Billy Pricer’s crusade: Pricer had disrupted a Wiccan gathering in 2002 and had gone on to distribute misinformation on Satanism at a local training seminar. My complaints to the Lancaster CSD resulted in their chief complaining to my chief. Their chief said in this letter that Pricer did good work with street kids. Given Pricer’s activities and the misinformation we found him circulating, one wonders what he is teaching these kids?
Last Samhain I spoke with Darla Kaye Wynn, who has been the victim of systematic vandalism and serious assaults for months due to an issue involving prayers at city council meetings. Last August someone broke into her house, killed her parrot, and left its heart with a note written in blood: “You’re next!” Darla had just been assaulted again when I spoke to her. We discussed strategies to try to keep her safe: I feel extremely frustrated and impotent realizing that this person in danger is thousands of miles away from me in another jurisdiction in which I have no influence.
That same week before Samhain 2004, the Metropolitan Police Force in the UK sent 30 officers from their child abuse team to an SRA training course. One would have thought that the disastrous Rochdale and Orkneys cases should have taught them not to waste their time on such nonsense. Meanwhile, Todd, one of the California police members of Officers of Avalon, discovered one of the awful “Satanic Calendars” that I’ve written about in this Witch Hunts series circulating in an e-mail exchange list for police officers investigating gangs and extremist groups.
In December 2004 a police officer supposedly doing “anti-gang” education was handing out this same “Satanic” calendar in Pearland, Texas to high school students. This officer apparently received this “Satanic ritual” calendar amongst material given to him in an anti-gang training session he’d taken recently. That same month saw a case in Missouri in which a father tried to tip the scales of justice in a custody case in his favour by brining in Bill Schnoebelen as an “expert witness”. The combined efforts of Judy Harrow, Selena Fox, Dr. Drake Spaeth and Patrick McCullam resulted in Schnoebelen’s expertise being discredited and his appearance cancelled.
This week I had a request regarding supplying information to the Hamilton Police Service, their Crown Attorney’s office, and the Children’s Aid Society in Ontario. The person making the request reported that “both of whom are firmly set in the misconception that Wicca is synonymous with Satanism” as their neighbors had apparently reported them to the authorities for “engaging in satanic ritual abuse”. Hamilton PS was invited to attend a presentation I gave in Hamilton in October 2004 but no one from that organization attended. I also had a request to assist a Wiccan in Illinois: Apparently a neighbour broke into her altar area, stole her Book of Shadows, lit candles, threw herbs around, took the Wiccan’s dogs out back, tied them up, and shot them. He was arrested and claimed that he’d gone insane due to her “witchcraft”.
In my Witch Hunts series I’ve shown you the cycle of development of numerous myths that form the greater urban legend of the Satanic conspiracy. We’ve seen people develop empires out of Quixotic campaigns against the devil to acquire power and wealth. We’ve seen therapists grow wealthy by captivating countless clients with therapies treating non-existent disorders. We’ve seen therapists sued for malpractice after ruining their patient’s lives. We’ve seen evangelists repeatedly caught in their intricate webs of deceit carry on and continue their efforts to misinform.
In the middle of the nineties most of the hysteria died down and several of the instigators appeared to be on the verge of slipping into obscurity. Yet a new generation of believers is out there, many of them indoctrinated by those who went before. Some of the instigators are returning to the limelight. Michael Warnke, one of the people who started the Satanic Panic and the subject of an earlier article in this Witch Hunts series, is in the process of making a come back. He still has supporters.
A new cycle started up in 2000. In October 2000 while campaigning in the US presidential election George W. Bush stated “I do not think that witchcraft is a religion, and I do not think it is in any way appropriate for the US military to promote it”. Of course there are many Wiccans and Pagans serving in the US military. Pagan beliefs were just beginning to be an accepted part of the chaplaincy within the military in the last decade years.
James Towey is the White House Deputy Assistant to President Bush and Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. In other words Towey is supposed to be the US administration’s religious expert. Towey hosted a Q and A session on Whitehouse.gov web site on 26 November 2003. Colby, a staffer from Centralia MO wrote: "Do you feel that Pagan faith based groups should be given the same considerations as any other group that seeks aid?" Towey replied: "I haven't run into a pagan faith-based group yet, much less a pagan group that cares for the poor! Once you make it clear to any applicant that public money must go to public purposes and can't be used to promote ideology, the fringe groups lose interest. Helping the poor is tough work and only those with loving hearts seem drawn to it."
This comment produced a storm of protest from the Pagan community. Contrary to what Towey thinks, Pagan groups have been very active in helping their communities. Clearly Towey has been influenced by the misinformation of the sort I’ve shown you in this column if he believes that we are lay-about cult members.
In 2001 St. Martin’s Press published a book by former New York PD cop Ralph Sarchie and writer Lisa Collier Cool: A New York City Cop Investigates The Supernatural. Sarchie and Cool claimed that there are over 8, 000 organized Satanic covens in the US, set up for the express purpose of breeding babies for sacrifice to Satan. They claim that the Necronomicon, a fraud that I’ve discussed earlier in my Witch Hunts series, is a factual book of Satanic rituals. On page 218 of this book they refer to Wiccans as “so-called white witches”. Santeria and Jehovah’s Witnesses are also disparaged. Sound familiar?
In the same year the book Pagans in the Pews by Peter Jones was published by Gospel Light. I’m sure that this blurb for Pagans in the Pews by ChristianBooks.com will sound familiar to you: “At the dawn of a new millennium, two worldviews collide: paganism and theism - the earth goddess versus the God who made the heavens and the earth. At the heart of our culture wars are spirit wars. And this clash is happening right now in our living rooms! Within a single generation, Judeo-Christian America has become a breeding ground for the new paganism. Behind the dazzling diversity of pro-choice culture - abortion rights, the homosexual agenda, radical feminism, New Age Spirituality, goddess worship and witchcraft - lies a coherent pagan spirituality bent on absolute control of our culture and intolerant of any truth that stands in opposition. Pagans in the Pews is essential reading for the Church today.” Sound familiar?
“Witchcraft Linked to Series of Attacks on Horses” was the caption of an article by George Mair in the Glasgow Herald of 28 October 2002. This article claims that the RSPCA and the National Equine Welfare Council had “established a ‘clear association’ between attacks throughout Britain and witchcraft in the approach to Halloween”. Owners are warned to look for “sticky plaits woven into their horse’s manes, small altars where horse’s hair has been burned and even pagan symbols such as pentagrams and double-headed axes”. Sound familiar?
The 700 Club program for Halloween 2002 featured a woman assigned the pseudonym “Sharon” claiming to be the survivor of multigenerational SRA. At first she claims to be the only daughter in the family but later contradicts herself and claims that the Satanists threatened to sacrifice her sister. She claims that she had the high priest’s baby and that this child was sacrificed by removing its heart and tearing off its limbs. She claims that they ate its flesh. She says that respectable people like police chiefs attend the ceremonies, which is why she never reported these crimes. She claims to have stopped eating and talking, which caused her Satanic parents to become concerned and take her to some Christian relatives. Later her parents let her attend a prayer meeting as they want to be popular and appear respectable. Demons torment her by night to try to bring her back to Satanism until Angels appear to rescue her. Pat Robertson then rants about the dangers of the occult, horoscopes, ouija boards, and palm reading. He claims that the Nazis were Satanists and that Witches seek power over others. Sound familiar?
In the summer of 2002 I became aware of a police officer going about lecturing the public and law enforcement on “occult crime”: Don Rimer. At that time Rimer was the Spokesperson and Media Relations officer for the Virginia Beach Police Department in Oklahoma. He is a member of the Oklahoma Gang Investigators Association (OGIA) . The OGIA web site (www.ogia.net) lists Rimer’s credentials as follows: “Don Rimer is... an inter-nationally recognized authority on ritual crime and the occult. He serves as both an Investigator and consultant to agencies throughout the United States. Since 1986, Mr. Rimer has spoken to more than one thousand schools, churches, civic groups and professional organizations. More recently, he served as a consultant to the Governor's Task Force on Ritual Crime. In addition, he has contributed to or has been featured in numerous books, publications, and both national and worldwide television broadcasts. In 1999, He signed a contract with a major Hollywood motion picture company to produce a series of documentary films on the occult.”
Rimer’s presentation reminds me of the presentations of Jerry Simandl, an officer I told you about earlier in this series. One member of the Pagan community who has had contact with Rimer is Drema Baker. She has known him for four years and regularly sends copies of PagaNet News to him. She also confirms that he attended at least one of her organization’s vigils. She has this to say about him:
“He invited me to speak at a conference for occult crime investigators a year or so ago; I accepted and was warmly welcomed by almost all (of about 3000 attendees) . The group gave me a large amount of time in which to speak, and a generous amount of time for questions and answers.
“Don has always been respectful to me and the Wiccan faith to my knowledge; he does make it a point to clarify the differences between what we do and what he finds at his crime sites...
“I know Don is passionate about his job, as you are about yours. Our faith is not his, and is not his focus. His focus is on stopping crimes, and I’ve seen some of the evidence of the crimes he’s investigated. I am not privy to all the details, but from what I’ve seen, there was an occult element in some of them, usually brought in by children or young adults who were troubled or wanted to seem more than they were. Satanic? Well, that’s a matter of opinion, ...”
Others in the community have different opinions as to Rimer’s expertise. Betsy Ashby of Out of the Dark has this to say:
"Don Rimer is a self proclaimed ‘occult crime expert’ with the Virginia Beach Police Dept. When he first started out (about 10 years ago) he was an OK guy. He just wanted to catch criminals and I am down with that. There was a murder in Virginia Beach that was definitely occult related, and he came to me for help identifying some of the symbols at the crime scene. He did the same thing in 1996 when there was a disappearance/ murder in the Vampire sub culture. I went into their culture and fished out info for him.
When he started speaking publicly, he made it real clear that actual "occult crimes" were very rare, and he used to give a fair explanation of Paganism and Wicca.
He got A LOT of media attention due to his involvement in the Vampire case and other high profile cases he was ‘consulted’ on. Basically, some cop from somewhere in the country would call him for advice about an ‘occult crime’ ...and then he would call me with questions. ...which was cool.
Then around 1998-1999 he started getting offered money to speak at various conferences... usually sponsored by Fundy Christians. His speeches got more and more extreme over the years as he tried to please the Fundy Christian crowd that gives him big bucks. Now to hear him tell it ‘occult crime’ is a big problem. One of his favourite tricks is to have himself ‘emergency paged’ during a speech, disappear briefly on the phone, then come back and announce to his audience ‘that call was about an occult crime I am currently working on.’
We haven't had an "occult crime" in his jurisdiction in 5 years.
He still calls me from time to time, but I will not help him at this point unless he shows me proof that physical harm has been done to someone first. Towards the end of the 90's I found out he was using some of the info I gave him in his talks AFTER twisting it around quite a bit. He doesn't know shit about the occult himself.”
Jill Medicineheart, an Officers of Avalon member from Ohio, recalls attending one of Rimer’s seminars in 1992 or 1993. Jill reports that she and her ex-significant other wanted to check out Rimer as they understood that he would be speaking about how he thought that participating in Fantasy Role Playing Games leads to Satanism. Jill’s ex played D&D. Jill reports that 50% of the people in the room at the mental health center where the talk was held were “professionals”. Jill said that to her it was obvious that Rimer was a born-again Christian and a “crackpot”. Jill recalls that Rimer “thought that Dungeons and Dragons... lead people to the occult and Satanism”.
A person in the Chesapeake area wrote to me to say:
“I have heard him speak and he does not, repeat does not like Wiccans. He thinks everything that is not Christian is Satanic and he does not like being corrected. I’ve tried to correct him in several talks that he had given locally and he does not appreciate being corrected, because he finds Satanism in everything that he does, including pentacles. He thinks pentacles are the work of Satan, and if you wear one, you are a Satanist. He is considered an ‘expert’ around here on occultism and the powers that be around here like calling him in to identify items found at crime scenes or in teen’s bedrooms as Satanic. He is almost becoming a one trick pony in that he finds what he seeks.”
On the OGIA web site Rimer has listed “Symptoms Characterizing Occult Ritual Abuse”. The main focus of these symptoms seems to be troubled and/or suicidal teens. Rimer’s lists are problematic: One of the implications of these lists is that this inaccurate information could lead people to persecute teens that may resort to suicide to escape the harassment. I am specifically thinking of the Tempest Smith case: This involved a 12 year old child in the Lincoln Park School District in the Detroit area harassed to the point of committing suicide by Christians at her high school. These Christians thought that Tempest was a Satanist because she was practising Wicca. Tempest was so distraught with the 9 months of ongoing harassment that she hanged herself to escape it. This is not an isolated case. Many people caught up in the hysteria about Satanism have caused a great deal of suffering to people misidentified as Satanists due to the sort of information disseminated by well meaning but misinformed investigators. I recall a case that came to my attention last fall involving two Wiccan teens in Indiana that threw themselves in front of a train.
Most of the problems in Rimer’s lists on the OGIA site stem from his insistence on lumping a number of completely different spiritual traditions like Wicca, Santeria, Vodou and Satanism under one heading: “The Occult”. Sound familiar? Rimer includes long lists of Satanic lyrics from rock groups such as ACDC at the end of his list of “Symptoms”. This implies that all of the people on the aforementioned list listen to these disgusting lyrics.
Five of the characteristics on Rimer’s list of “Symptoms Characterizing Occult Ritual Abuse” could just as easily be indicators of legal Wiccan or Neo-Pagan religious practice:
- “Discussion of participation in a 'religious ceremony.'”
- “Reference to people dressed in costumes, robes and masks.”
- “Occult symbols drawn on walls, books, and clothing.”
- “Jewelry, make up, and clothing reflect an occult theme.”
- “An obsession with occult books, games, music and movies.”
I frequently discuss my religious ceremonies with my friends and colleagues at work. People at my Wiccan rituals often wear costumes, robes and masks. I openly wear a pentagram and a bracelet that Rimer would seem to classify as occult jewellery and frequently wear clothing displaying what you would classify as occult designs. Yet, contrary to what Rimer’s list would suggest to the reader, I am not involved in criminal or destructive activity. I am not obsessed. Rimer’s list could easily lead to a misidentification that could lead to discrimination. One of the “characteristics” that Rimer lists is “refusal to participate in the family’s religious affiliation”. I wonder what affiliation Rimer is thinking of here?
I wrote to Rimer and the OGIA to voice my concerns regarding the many inaccurate and/or incomplete definitions on Rimer’s list of “Symptoms Characterizing Occult Ritual Abuse”. I indirectly learned that Rimer had received it before he replied to me. Rimer presented a seminar on “The Occult and Satanism” on 5 October 2002 as a fund raiser for the Oklahoma Gang Investigators Association (cost $35) . Another Officers of Avalon member, Geary Johns of the Tulsa PD, attended Rimer’s lecture. Johns reports:
“I attended Don Rimer's seminar Saturday on ‘Ritual Crime & The Occult’. It was billed as being from 9 am to 5 pm, it started at 9:30 and ran till 11:30 then broke for lunch. Started at 1 pm and ran till 4 pm. He started with his intro, and then went into a rant about ‘ an 8 page letter he got from a Canadian police officer, defending Wicca’. He stated that you had never been to one of his seminars, and had no reason to have to defend your faith. He never called you by name, or talked about anything you said. He went on to inform everyone that he worked with a Wiccan high priestess, and attended the public Samhain every year (he didn't know how to say Samhain) . All through the seminar he would again defend himself by bringing up your letter. He then went on to state that Wicca was a peaceful religion that dated back thousands of years, and that they were not the topic of the seminar. All through the seminar he did point out that ‘Wiccans’ didn't do the things he was talking about. Also stating that he had never seen a case where a Wiccan was involved.”
Yes, that was my 8 page letter that he was referring to. I certainly succeeded in getting his attention. It is true that I’ve not attended one of his presentations in person, but I have reports from Wiccans like Geary who have. As I’ve already told you I’ve reviewed the inaccurate content of the information Rimer is presenting to police on the OGIA web site. I’ve already identified the person that Rimer apparently goes running to when he needs occult information and their assessment that he has no knowledge of the occult. One has to agree with their assessment in light of the information on the OGIA web site.
Baker has this explanation for Rimer’s inability to pronounce Samhain properly: “Why he does not pronounce Samhain correctly is probably related to the fact that he does not work with Wiccans and Pagans on a daily basis, and simply does not remember the proper pronunciation. I have no doubt informed him of this detail; however, it isn’t his path.” Wicca may not be his path, but if for several years he has presented himself as an expert in this area, one would expect him to pronounce the terms involved correctly. Baker told us that she has been sending him newsletters and that he has attended some of their functions. Obviously he wasn’t that attentive. That Rimer is unable to pronounce or even spell common Pagan terms correctly as well as unable to present accurate information on his web page indicates a lack of interest in the subject of his alleged expertise. Further, it indicates disrespect of the people that he is gleaning the information from.
Johns went on to say this about Rimer’s presentation:
"He starts out talking about Satanism and Anton LeVay, while he waved a copy of the Satanic Bible around and showed slides of newspaper clippings. Then he moved to the Russell Smith case, and had slides of the Smith’s home. Next he talked on Fantasy Role Playing Games. He spoke of another ‘Cult Cop’ buddy of his in NYC, but didn't give a name. I was very much amused at his calling himself a cult cop. Music was his next topic with a film of Marilyn Manson, and how he was a member of LaVey's Satanic church.
The Shawn Novak case was next, and he displayed slides of the crime scene as they uncovered the bodies, and then slides of the boys' bodies in the morgue. I thought it tasteless to show such photos to a mixed audience; there were teachers, clergy, and citizens in attendance as well as officers. I have no doubt that they will be disturbed for some time over seeing such, and felt it was used for shock value.
He then spoke on the ‘Vampire’ trend in the country and spoke of the Rod Ferrell case.
The last 10 min were on Santeria and Brujeria, and Palo Mayombe. He then passed out his handout materials, he had stated earlier that he always handed them out at the end of the seminar...
It seemed that he went to lengths to make it clear that Wicca was not a ‘bad’ pagan religion, but used the term witchcraft with Satanism. He also didn't tell folks that a pentacle with the point up was Wiccan, and dwelt on point down being Satanic. All in all it was a waste of time, he never gave out much information. I feel that his seminars are a sales tool to get more folks to book him for another seminar, and if they find something they think is satanic or occultic to contact him for consulting. He has an advertisement in the back of his handout. I think that his ethics are questionable due to his use of crime scene photos and I feel that the parents of the boys killed in the Shawn Novak case would not care to have the photos of their dead cut up nude sons shown to the public.”
Rimer did eventually write to me. He apologized for the delay in his reply and told me that “Just prior to writing this letter I was reading the current issue of PagaNet News. I have had a close relationship with Drema Baker/Aranea, the publisher/editor of the paper for many years. She has educated me about Wicca and other Pagan worship for the past 16 years.” He went on to say that he had shared my letter with Drema and that she was “shocked that you thought that I was painting Wicca in a bad light.” He told me that everything that he had learned from Drema had been included in his program. He confirmed that he had allowed Drema to lecture as a part of his program at his “law enforcement conferences.” However you’ll note that Drema wasn’t a part of the program at this conference that Johns attended. Nor is he saying that she ever appeared at any of his church presentations.
Rimer asked Drema about me, telling me in his reply that “Drema is aware of you and your outstanding reputation in the Wiccan community.” He told me that it was Drema who had encouraged him to write.
Rimer objected to my complaint about his classification of colors. He complained that he had indeed read “numerous Wiccan books provided by Drema.” Yet the bibliography of his “Ritual Crime and the Occult” handout does not mention one book on Wicca or Pagan religion (more on this in a moment) . “The colors in my handout, ” Rimer told me, “refer to Satanic color usage.” Yet this list of colors isn’t labeled “Satanic Colors”. It is a list of “Occult Colors” on a list of “Symptoms Characterizing Occult Ritual Abuse”.
Rimer also complained about my criticism of his claims about poisons and/or traps at occult sites. “I have never said that all ritual sites include poisons or traps, ” he complained, “But if you have never seen these items, you must stay out of the woods. In my more than 30 years of law enforcement service, we have visited dozens of ritual sites used by Satanists or other dangerous cult groups where poison or traps were present. I work closely with the State Police who have called me to rural areas where we examined sites that included poison, hallucinogenics, snares, nooses, tiger pits, guillotines, animal traps, etc. We frequently caution our drug agents about the poisons and drugs used by practitioners of Santeria, Brujeria, Palo Mayombe, and Voodoo.” This all sounds very interesting, but once again, this remark about traps and poison was on his list of “Symptoms Characterizing Occult Ritual Abuse.” Occult takes in a lot of different things: Rimer isn’t specific and he should be. One wonders why, if he has seen all of these exotic things at these many sites, he didn’t show slides of them at his presentation to prove the dangers that he speaks of?
In answer to my concerns about his remarks about a “Witches’ alphabet”, Rimer stated: “Obviously this confuses those who do not know the difference. LaVey frequently referred to the 'Witches alphabet.'” Yes, and I have never considered LaVey to be an expert on the occult either. If you figure that this confuses people that don’t know the difference, you expand your definition to clarify it.
In answer to my concerns about the terms on his list of Occult Terms, Rimer states: “I will just say that I have read numerous definitions of the terms. They all differ. I chose the ones I used based on the frequency of those used at crime scenes. Definition is also interpretation.” Choosing the definition of terms based on how often you encounter a definition is catering to the audience. Defining terms based on facts and research results in accuracy. Polling for a popular answer does not. “I will skip some topics like Halloween, ” Rimer told me, “There are more different explanations of Halloween than anything else. I chose this one.” The one you heard most often, no doubt. More often, because so many of the fundamentalist resources you consulted are using it. I’ll return to the issue of the resources that he utilized in a moment.
Regarding Rimer’s calendar of Occult Holidays, Rimer complained that “Everyone does not agree with your interpretation.” That’s certainly true, as you can see from the interpretations that I’ve listed for you elsewhere in this Witch Hunts series. “As far as the term ‘Sabbot’”, Rimer told me, “that is not a mispelling. Again, LaVey and other Satanic leaders use that spelling. I will, however, change the spelling in the handout to ‘Sabbat’.” This is just bombast. I defy Rimer to show me a text by LaVey or Aquino that spells the term “Sabbat” as “Sabbot”. You won’t find this spelling in Aquino’s Crystal Tablets. LaVey’s book The Satanic Rituals doesn’t list the term Sabbat even once. LaVey didn’t call his celebrations Sabbats. The only thing similar to this in The Satanic Rituals is a reference to Witch’s “Dianic esbats”. You’ll note that LaVey spelled the term “Esbats” correctly. If Rimer was correct about his assertion, you’d think that he’d offer me references or some other proof and keep this spelling. You’ll notice that instead he is trying to bluff me while offering to change the spelling.
Rimer concluded by telling me of two cases that he was consulting in where “the participants used the terms Wicca, Satanism, Pagan, Vampire, etc.” He gives me a few sketchy details and tells me that “Both of the law enforcement agencies referred to these cases as Wiccan in nature until I arrived.” Excellent, but if they’d had all of the necessary information that you should have included in your web site they may have figured this out on their own. Of course you wouldn’t have got a consulting fee then.
Rimer presented as a reasonable person who was willing to learn and who went out of this way to differentiate between Pagan religion and what he classifies as “occult” or “Satanic.” If that is the case, how does he explain the following introduction to the very handout that he used in the aforementioned “Occult and Satanism” seminar on 5 October 2002 where he was waving my 8 page letter about. The emphasis in the following is mine:
“Occult: ‘The Hidden’. Every culture, every society since the beginning of time has had a form of occult belief. Satanism is centuries old, and like most Pagan religions, predates Christianity. It survives and prospers because it is filled with secrets, sins and sex. It’s rites are mysterious and elaborate. Those who choose it, focus their lives, their very souls on the creed of freedom, selfishness, and the promise of power.”
Rimer is telling me that Pagans are different from Satanists, yet here he is clearly calling Satanism a Pagan religion. This handout contains the very same lists that I objected to on his web site, containing the same errors. It contains the same inaccurate “Glossary of Occult Terms”, the same flawed calendar of “Occult Holidays”, the same erroneous list of “Occult Colors”, the same list of “Occultic Items Used for Worship”, and the same “History & Origin” of Halloween as his web page. There is more. Rimer’s Ritual Crime and the Occult: The New Youth Subculture, includes a list of “Satanic Symbols”. Note that this time the title is “Satanic”, not “Occult”. This list includes many of the same symbols that you’ve already seen “experts” labeling as strictly Satanic in earlier manuals on “occult crime” earlier in this series.
Finally, a moment ago I mentioned my concerns about the resources that Rimer listed in his handout. I mentioned that there were no Wiccan listings in his Bibliography. There are none for any of the other religions that he mentions either (Vodou, Santeria, Brujeria, Palo Mayombe) . This is what is in his handout’s “Biography”:
- Cavendish, Richard. The Black Arts.
- Kahaner, Larry. Cults That Kill.
- North, Dr. Gary. Dare Call It Witchcraft.
- Pratney, Whitney. Devil Take The Youngest.
- Pulling, Pat. The Devil’s Web
- Johnston, Jerry. The Edge of Evil
- Pazder, Dr. Lawrence. Michelle Remembers
- Raschke, Carl A. Painted Black
- LaVey, Anton. The Satanic Bible
- Wedge, Tom. The Satan Hunter
- Warnke, Mike. The Satan Seller
- Ebon, Martin. The Satan Trap.
- Stratford, Lauren. Satan’s Underground
Where are all the Wiccan books that Rimer claims to have read? I’ve already shown you how the books by Stratford, Warnke and Pazder are hoaxes. I’ve already discussed the problems with Rashcke’s and Johnston’s books. The titles of many of the others you’ll recognize from resource lists or bibliographies that we encounter in the literature of the fanatics that I’ve told you about. How could anyone with any knowledge of this subject consider this to be a reasonable resource list? Do Stratford, Warnke, Pazder, Raschke or Johnston tell us that there is a difference between Pagans and Satanists? Most of the persons on this list do not. Are you surprised to find the inaccuracies on Rimer’s list given that these are his sources? I’m not. Wait until you see the “Resource Information” that he recommends. Rimer’s resource list includes:
- Dr. Dale Griffis
- Spiritual Counterfeits Project
- WATCH Network
Griffis is anything but an expert and these two organizations exist to attempt to prove to the public that anything not fundamentalist Christian is Satanic.
I believe that Rimer is sincere, just as Drema does. I think that he is making some effort to properly define Wicca to selected audiences. I think that he is doing this because he knows that people like me are watching and he is concerned about liability. I don’t believe for a minute that he knows the difference between Neo-Pagan religions and Satanism. Rimer has said that he is willing to listen and learn and I will endeavor to educate him.
The OGIA is sensitive to the scrutiny that I subjected them to as well: In March 2003, I tried to log on to their site to see if any corrections had been made to Rimer’s list, only to discover that you can no longer log on to the OGIA web site: You get a message informing you that you “are not authorized to view this page”.
There are many within and without the law enforcement community actively seeking to resurrect the Witch Hunts and reverse the gains we’ve made. Obviously people want to revive the Satanic Panic in order to further their own ends. So what do we do about it? We continue to educate. We refute. We do not let the outrageous claims of these people go unanswered. The Neo-Pagan community is much larger now than it was when I first joined it more than three decades ago, or even a decade and a half ago when I first started speaking out against the disseminators of these urban legends. There are now anti-defamation organizations that can assist you. The people that I’ve told you about are very vocal but, regardless of what they claim, they are a minority, not a “moral majority”. We can be vocal too.
Most people out there are reasonable. Most Christians are reasonable. Yet in the absence of quality information even reasonable people may accept the slick presentations of people such as the ones that I have described. We cannot let another cycle start. We must try to prevent another Inquisition.
In this series of article as well as in my upcoming Witch Hunts book, I’ve given you the basic facts to work from. I’ve identified common patterns and urban legends that disseminators of such misinformation tend to employ. Get it out there where it can do some good. Tell your friends and family. Write letters to the editor. Participate in anti-defamation work. Keep alive the spirit of the phrase: “Never again the burning!”
| ABOUT... |
Location: Surrey, British Columbia
Bio: Kerr Cuhulain the author of this article, is known to the mundane world as Detective Constable Charles Ennis. Ennis, a former child abuse investigator, 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 28 years ago. Kerr is now the Preceptor General of Officers of Avalon. Kerr went on to write four books: The Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca (Horned Owl Publishing), Wiccan Warrior and Full Contact Magick: A Book of Shadows for the Wiccan Warrior. (Llewellyn Publications), as well as a book based on this series: Witch Hunts: Out of the Broom Closet (Spiral Publishing).
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