BeyondWeird Home
Index  Previous  Next 

                         BEYOND REASON: A new look at an old Devil

                                         by Aries

          Inside my mind is a court room. It is dark and sombre, a few shafts of
          light from high slit windows etch out sloping pillars of swirling
          dust. In the public gallery are a representative sample of the great
          unwashed; fighting, fornicating, eating, suckling piglets, and other
          sub-Bosch activities that lend atmosphere to the Baroque wanderings of
          my imagination. The judge is unhappy. Whatever happens, someone,
          somewhere, will hate him for it. In the dock are the three grand-dames
          from Shakespeare's "Scottish" play, and I am counsel for the defence.
          The Advocatus Diaboli, I guess. In the witness stand is "Dance with
          the Devil" by Audrey Harper and Harry Pugh, and grave are its accus-
          ations. But first, let's have its story.

          Audrey Harper; a familiar tale of degradation and final redemption t-
          hrough our Saviour Jesu Christos; sent to a Dr Barnado's home by her
          mother, she grew up with deprivation and social stigma. In time she
          becomes a WRAF, falls in love, gets pregnant, boyfriend dies, she
          turns to booze, gives up her baby and becomes homeless. Wandering to
          Piccadilly Circus she meets some Flower Children with the killer weed,
          and her descent into Hell is assured. By day she gets stoned and eats
          junk food; by night she sleeps in squats and doorways. Along comes
          Molly; the whore with a heart of gold who teaches Audrey the art of
          streetwalking. She flirts with shoplifting, gets into pills, and then
          gets talent spotted and invited to a Chelsea party, where wealth, pow-
          er and tasteful decor are dangled as bait. At the next party she is
          hooked by the "group", which meets "every month in Virginia Water".
          She agrees to go to the next meeting which is to be held at Hallow-

          Inside the dark Temple lit by black candles and full of "A heady,
          sickly sweet smell from burning incense", she is "initiated" by the "-
          warlock", whose "face was deathly pale and skeletal... his eyes ... w-
          ere dark and sunken" and whose "breath and body seemed to exude a
          strange smell, a little like stale alcohol." She signs herself over to
          Satan with her own blood on a parchment scroll, whereupon a baby is
          produced, its throat cut, and the blood drank. Following this she gets
          dumped on the "altar" and fucked as the "sacrifice of the White
          Virgin". The meeting finishes with a little ritual cursing and she's
          left to wander "home" in the dark. 

          Her life falls into a steady routine of meetings in Virginia Water,
          getting screwed by the "warlock", drug abuse, petty crime, and recrui-
          ting runaways for parties, where the drinks are spiked - "probably
          LSD" - and candles injected with heroin release "stupefying fumes into
          the air"; the object being sex kicks and pornography. She falls
          pregnant again, gets committed to a psychiatric hospital, has the
          baby, and gives it away convinced that the "warlock" would sacrifice

          Things then become a confusion of Church desecration, drug addiction,
          ritual abuse, psychiatric hospital, and falling in with Christian folk
          who try vainly to save her soul. For rather vague reasons the "coven"
          decide to drop her from the team, and she dedicates herself to a true
          junkie's lifestyle with a steady round of overdosing, jaundice, and
          detoxification units. The "warlock" drops by to threaten her, and she
          makes her way north via some psychiatric hospitals to a Christian
          Rehabilitation farm. She gets married, has a child which she keeps,


          and becomes a regular churchgoer. But beneath the surface are recur-
          ring nightmares, insane anger and murderous feelings towards her
          brethren. At the Emmanual Pentecostal Church in Stourport she asks the
          Minister, Roy Davies, for help. He prays, and God tells him that she
          was involved with witchcraft. An exorcism has her born again, cleansed
          of her sin. She gets baptised and has no more nightmares, becoming a
          generally nicer person. She becomes the "occult expert" of the Reach-
          out Trust and Evangelical Alliance, and makes a career out of telling
          an edited version of her tale. 

          Geoffrey Dickens MP persuades her to tell all on live TV; "Audrey, to
          your knowledge is child sacrifice still going on?" To this she rep-
          lies, "To my knowledge, yes." After this the whole thing rambles into
          an untidy conclusion of self-congratulation, self-promotion, and self-
          justification; and for a grand finale pulls out a list of horrendous
          child abuse, which is shamelessly exploited in typically journalistic
          fashion, and by the usual fallacious arguments which links it to
          anything "occult"; help-lines, astro predictions in newspapers, and
          even New Age festivals. 

          And so we are left with a horrifying vision of hordes of Satanists
          swarming the country, buggering kids, sacrificing babies, and feeding
          their own faeces to the flock. I would be tempted to consider this
          story a modern parable; a Rakes Progress for the late 20th century,
          were it not for the claim of truth and the accusations cast.

          Throughout her tale Mrs Harper shows herself to be a clumsy diss-
          embler; inconsistencies appear throughout, and the tone is shrill and
          hysterical. "I know parts of my story are hard to believe. I realise
          there are some sceptics who will not accept that such things can h-
          appen." This is a perfect example of the fallacy known as "poisoning
          the well", but what part might we find hard to believe? On page 79
          with her bare face hanging out she tells us that, "I was, by now,
          quite an accomplished young witch. I could levitate. I could bring
          down the powers of darkness to move furniture about." Better a wilful
          sceptic than having us believe in levitating junkies. But was she a
          witch? When the Chelsea girl invites her along, "she never mentioned
          witchcraft. But somehow, as she spoke, her words conjured up an eerie
          atmosphere." And according to her testimony, nobody actually mentions
          witchcraft prior to Roy Davies, who is tipped the wink by Lord God

          Regardless of that, she still promiscuously mixes up the terms; wi-
          tchcraft, Satanism and Paganism, playing free and easy with the rules
          of evidence. However, it does appear that there is a thing called
          Wicca or White Witches who "certainly do not set out to do evil", but
          are still damned because "even if they don't do deliberate harm, their
          activities are opposed to Christian teachings because they worship
          false gods." Obviously possessed of the spirit of discernment, or as
          Joseph Campbell said, "You can't fool around with Yahweh." 1

                 Okay, so where is the evidence? In Mrs Harper's reality tunnel the e-
          vidence is everywhere, for the world is full of "evils that are the
          work of Satan." Not for Mrs Harper the easy road of "hardfacts" when
          she assures us that "There have been mounting suspicions over the
          years that child sacrifices take place regularly. I believe that they
          do. I have no evidence to support this belief." "It's my belief that
          some of the hundreds of children and adults who go missing every year
          end up being sacrificed." All that she offers us is her belief, but is
          it a rational belief? Consider these words from another book, in a


          chapter called "Schizophrenia: The Demon in Control - "Let's say that
          when you awake tomorrow, you find standing at your bedside a man with
          purple scale skin...from Mars... visible and audible only to you...he
          warns you not to reveal his presence; if you attempt to do so, he
          threatens, he will kill you instantly... On the basis of what you can
          so clearly see and hear, you accept the fact, astounding as it is,
          that the stranger is what he says he is."2  Barbara O'Brien then goes
          on to describe the schizophrenic trip and how she toured America in
          Greyhound buses in an attempt to escape the "hook operators". 

          But, what if someone woke up to find Satan by their bed? Mrs Harper is
          one of the sad minority to do just that. In hospital, after an over-
          dose she returned to her bed to find on it "a miniature hooded figure-
          ... I was sure it was Satan manifesting himself to me." If we check
          the diagnosis of schizophrenia we find that the schizophrenic "ceases
          to experience his mental processes and his will as under his own
          control; he may insist that thoughts are being put into his mind."3
                 And what does Mrs Harper tell us? She signed in blood a parchment
          scroll which stated that, "I am no longer my own. Satan is my master."
          As for arranging her social calendar, "I was rarely summoned... Some
          inner compulsion told me when, and where, to go...Satan could direct
          me to the coven by remote control." At other times there was "just the
          telepathic message buzzing in my head... Satan was beckoning... There
          was no resistance. I had to go." In fact most of the time "Satan was
          at the helm of my thinking processes." This is not all, for we also r-
          ead that the schizophrenic "hears voices telling him what to do."3    

                 Three or four weeks after her "initiation", Mrs Harper experienced a
          blinding headache. "Then a voice came to me, telling me to be at H-
          ighgate Cemetery just before midnight." The voice went on to give her
          some travel directions, which was very obliging. "In acute stages of
          the illness other hallucinations and delusions of varied kinds may be
          present."3  I think we can safely classify levitation and telekinesis
          under the heading of hallucination and delusion, but what about babies
          being killed? Or coven meetings even? "The paranoid schizophrenic has
          'a persistent idea...that there is a conspiracy or concerted action
          against him...a delusion of grandeur."3  Whenever she took an overdose,
          "I knew who was behind it all - the coven. This was Satan attacking
          me." Whenever things went wrong for Mrs Harper it was Satan, "making
          me follow foolish impulses...causing me to behave in a stupid way."
          Every time she got moving "Satan played another of his little tricks"
          to stop her short. "Delusions of unworthiness occur in depressive
          illnesses in association with misery and hopelessness." 3  Any comment
          Mrs Harper? "I felt myself wishing that I could be good, like these
          nurses, instead of a servant of the Devil." " inadequate I was
          compared with the other churchgoers."

          On her first TV programme she was asked, "How do you know you were not
          just on a bad trip?", to which she replied, "A bad trip doesn't last
          five years." But if this bad trip is schizophrenia, it could. As far
          as backgrounds go, hers was ideal for inducing psychosis; harsh, cold
          and alienating. Significantly she had nicknamed the matron of the home
          "the witch", and after her escape attempts "It didn't take the police
          long...they soon had me back under the spell
          of the witch." A process of learned helplessness. Bob Wilson 4  disc-
          usses the possible role of schizophrenia and self-medication in heroin
          addiction, and certainly at the more stable periods of her life she s-
          eems to have no problem giving up her drugs. Although this may not be
          important, it is worth bearing in mind that Virginia Water is home to
          the Royal Holloway Psychiatric Hospital, which, at the time of her t-


          ale, had a bustling schizophrenic population. Maybe this explains how
          she ended up so often wandering around dazed in the dark. Of course
          this is all speculation, but the mere possibility that an undiagnosed
          schizophrenic with a medieval delusion is trying to drag us into her
          fantasy, and to restrict the civil liberties of others has me worried.

          Even more worrying was a "Despatches" documentary shown on Channel 4
          TV on the 19th February 1992, portraying an alleged expose of Satanism
          and ritual abuse. An array of "survivors" were brought before us; some
          of whom were severely traumatised individuals and in need of much care
          and help to re-build their lives. Others had me suspecting malice as a
          motivating force.  These "survivors" refuse to go to the police, just
          like our Mrs Harper neglected to report a whole heap of crimes such
          as; desecration, rape, child abuse, drug running, animal brutality,
          murder, eating foetuses and stealing library books. When at long last
          someone goes as far as pointing to where the bodies are buried, the
          police do a lot of digging, but find nothing. Similarly, those cases
          that come to trial are thrown out on the grounds of insufficient
          evidence or doubts about the social workers' methods.

          Therapists and social workers assure us that the physical reactions of
          these people when under analysis are authentic, but this proves
          little. The link between mind and body is profound; the body reacts to
          the mind's content regardless of the authenticity of that content;
          i.e., belief will evoke as great a response as actual recall. What do
          these "carers" have to gain by their behaviour? I guess it's much
          sexier to be on a special Satanic ritual abuse group, rather than just
          another social worker in the child unit. After the "Operation Julie"
          team split up, the majority of its members left the police rather than
          return to normal duties - the power of being in a special elite sedu-
          ces the best of us.

          As is usual Uncle Aleister comes in for some ritual abuse; this evil
          black magician (sic) on the "Bloody Sacrifice"; and "Dispatches"
          quotes those infamous lines from page 219: "A male child of perfect
          innocence and high intelligence is the most satisfactory and suitable

                 But they neglected the all-important footnote: "It is the sacrifice of
          oneself spiritually. And the intelligence and innocence of that male
          child are the perfect understanding of the Magician, his one aim,
          without lust of result. And male he must be, because what he sacr-
          ifices is not the material blood, but his creative power."5  We can
          surmise that either the "Dispatches" team are totally incompetent to
          have missed that footnote, or deliberately dishonest.  As far as I can
          tell the only sin in what Uncle Aleister suggests is the Sin of Onan.
          (See: Sacred Mushroom and the Cross by J M Allegro for a full ex-
          planation of the link between sperm and sin.)

          Finally, after teasing us overmuch with hints of a secret Satanic gro-
          up that regularly murders babes in arms and worships Uncle Aleister in
          a basement Temple in the East End of London, they were going to reveal
          all. Well, actually not all: they stop short of naming names, due no
          doubt to a sharp eye on this country's libel laws. Instead we get
          shown clips of an arty video from The Temple ov Psychic Youth's
          playroom; a video I thought was available by mail order, and some of
          which was shown publicly as far back as 1987 at the 2nd Thelemic
          Conference at Oxford. The offending content was a little low-level S&M
          (low-level compared to what is currently available from Amsterdam),
          and certainly not as visually gripping as some films by Dali or


          Kenneth Anger. What seemed to have been forgotten is that Sado-
          masochistic behaviour is ritualistic, but that doesn't mean that rit-
          ual is an incidence of intention of abuse.

          It was confidently stated that claims of identical detail concerning
          Satanic ritual abuse go back 700 years; but in all this time, those
          tricky Satanists have evaded capture. "Dispatches" claimed that the
          wily Satanists escape the net because their crimes are "beyond bel-
          ief", and hence not believed. Personally I wonder whether the claims
          themselves may well be beyond reason. Suppose these survivors claimed
          to have been abducted by fairies, or the Evil Space Brothers; how wo-
          uld we react? Evidence is coming through that suggests that Multiple
          Personalities and UFO abductees show a tendency of abuse of some sort
          as a child. Hypnotised subjects are able to construct a detailed and
          realistic UFO kidnap scenario without having any UFO knowledge or ex-
          perience.6  We are obviously talking about something that is coming up
          from the deeper structures of the mind, possibly at the level of the
          Archetypes, and I'm sure we can agree that the "Satanic Ritual" s-
          cenario is well embedded in the group consciousness. We should bear in
          mind two things; firstly, the mind is a much more complex entity than
          our current models allow for. Also that memory is symbolic; it does
          not run back like a film; rather it is reconstructed from elements
          that "seem right", but the result is always partial, leaving room for
          symbolism to dress the events in a ways that serves a deeper need. A
          child being treated brutally by parents it believes should be loving,
          could then "demonise" them, so that images of "satanic parents" will
          slowly emerge in therapy as the real trauma is dealt with. The symbol-
          ic nature of this recalled material allows it to be easily dealt with
          by psychodrama such as exorcism. Maybe it's all true; many abusers use
          ritual trappings to induce fear, so maybe there are Satanic abusers;
          Lord knows there are more than enough Christian and non-Satanic
          abusers about. But to politicise others' pain and suffering is to my
          mind, both wrong-headed and dangerous.

          The truth is that there are a lot of sick people out there, both
          perpetrators and victims who are hurt and traumatised. They need all
          the help we can give, not exploitation. We have seen the effect of
          mass hysteria before; from the Pendle Witches and Jews up to the
          Guildford Four and Orkney Twelve. The Witch Hunts died out because
          wilful sceptics refused to believe on women flying about the country-
          side on broomsticks, and tended to (rather unkindly) laugh at the peo-
          ple who believed in such things. The UK is currently in its worse
          recession this century, and we can confidently expect a rise in the
          rates of suicide, child abuse and scape-goating. Right now we have a
          greater need of wilful sceptics than we do of fanatics fresh from a
          medieval reality tunnel. I rest my case.


          1    Joseph Campbell: The Power of Myth
          2    Barbara O'Brien: Operators and Things - The Inner Life of a S-
          3    Richard L Gregory (Ed.): The Oxford Companion to the Mind
          4    Robert Anton Wilson: Sex and Drugs - A Journey Beyond Limits
          5    Aleister Crowley: Magick
          6    Hilary Evans: Visions, Apparitions, Alien Visitors

          And not forgetting DANCE WITH THE DEVIL: A Young Woman's Struggle to
          Escape the Coven's Curse, by Audrey Harper with Harry Pugh, published
          by Kingsway Publications. (As an interesting postscript to this arti-
          cle: readers may be interested to learn that it was Audrey Harper's
          appearance on Australian TV, telling us all about the dangers of S-
          atanic/Witchcraft ritual child abuse that prompted me to found the Pan
          Pacific Pagan Alliance - Julia)

Next: Pagan Unity Ritual (W.o.W. #5)