by Morgain Blake

   Sometimes I think that it's a real shame that witchcraft and Satanism don't
live up to their media image.  Ah, the romance of those cavernous crypts lit
by massive black candles and filled with dizzying clouds of incense!  Those
robed, chanting figures, those beautiful though damned maidens, those
magnificently choreographed circle dances and orgies!  When will I taste the
mystic potion which sends the hypnotised heroine into such erotic and
transporting visions?  Where are those ancient houses with secret passages
leading to paneled chambers with horrifying sights?  How can I join those
beautiful people dancing to the strains of supernatural piping in a stone
circle under the full moon?

   Alas, scenes like these seem to exist mainly in movies and between the pages
of books.  I've never seen anything like them in ten years of occult
experience, and friends with longer track records than mine seem to have
missed them as well.

   I once had the illuminating experience of giving a ride to a man who was
about to attend his first ritual with our group.  When I came to his door and
introduced myself as the person his friend had persuaded to offer him
transport, his eyes widened.  I don't know what he was expecting, but what he
got was an ordinary redhead in street clothes with a battered Chevy Nova
rattling in the driveway.  He gathered up a bundle of clothes which looked as
though they had been through a number of revels at meetings of the Society for
Creative Anachronism and new-looking copies of BOTH _The Satanic Bible_ and
_The Spiral Dance_ by Starhawk, and followed me to my car, chattering
nervously.  On the way to the house where the ritual was to be held, he told
me how important he was in the Society for Creative Anachronism; how his
powers had been revealed to him in a childhood vision and how successfully he
had been warding off a series of psychic attacks by his enemies.

   I suppose that I should not have been surprised when he didn't know how to
behave during the ritual and constantly had that "what do I do with my hands"
look which comes over people who are in totally new situations.  However, I
was completely shocked when the ritual, which I considered to be beautiful and
highly moving (I had written it myself) bored him to tears.  He cornered me in
the kitchen later while I was loading my plate with the usual sumptuous
after-ritual feast (six casseroles, two salads, five desserts and six kinds of
chips, washed down with Diet Pepsi and various strange-looking wines).  "Are
your rituals always like this?" he asked plaintively.

   I shrugged.  "Sometimes shorter, sometimes, longer, sometimes totally

   He brightened.  "Totally unrestrained?"

   "Yeah.  You were lucky today.  The High Priest kept his face straight all
the way through and Leon the punster didn't make any rude remarks.  Sometimes
we end up laughing so hard we can't go on for five minutes."

   "Oh.  Is there ever any sexual involvement?"

   "We save that for afterwards," I leered and carried my teetering plate over
to the sofa where my two favorite fellow-worshippers had been beckoning
lewdly to me.  Poor Fred!  The most excitement he got that night was watching
the more lecherous members of the group figure out ways to hug and nibble the
ears of all the women in the group while simultaneously demolishing the food
and managing not to miss any of "Star Trek".

   Needless to say, Fred never came back.

   Recalling Fred's first and only visit to a Real-live Magical Ritual makes
me realize that the so-called "occult experts" who appear on network and local
TV and speak to parent's groups across the nation are concealing two important
and horrible truths from the American Public.

   First of all, the experts have bought the legends hook, line and sinker.
They believe that we worship in those smoky crypts and god-haunted groves
instead of suburban living rooms and basements.  They believe that we feast on
murdered infants instead of tuna noodle hot dish and walnut brownies, and that
we don't fill our chalices with Diet Pepsi, but with human blood.  I have it
on the excellent authority of Frank Medina, a Wisconsin-based probation officer
who is one of the few REAL occult experts in the country, that it is not even
POSSIBLE to drink a cup of blood.  The acrid, caustic properties of blood make
it much more likely that the drinker would dash off to the bathroom to be sick
or even to an emergency room to have his stomach pumped than that he would
rise up filled with fervor and praising Satan.  However, the "experts" would
far rather believe in legend than in fact, and they desperately want to
conceal their lack of real evidence from their audiences.

   The second horrible truth that these stars of the Oprah Winfrey Show are
hiding from the American people is that most of the people who inhabit the
occult world are ordinary, normal, and yes, BORING.  The High Priests and
Priestesses of satanic and wiccan covens across the nation are not pale,
glamorously dressed tempters and temptresses who sleep by day in the luxurious
homes maintained by their private fortunes, then rise as night to perform
unspeakable acts of horror and perversion.  We are nurses, secretaries, waiters,
engineers, graphic designers, college teachers, soldiers, computer programmers,
security guards, and lawyers.

   Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Average American, we have infiltrated all walks of
American life.  We might even (perish the thought) be living right next door
to you!  How can you tell who we are so that you can protect your precious
pets, children and selves from us?  Well, here are a few dead giveaways.

1.  Most of us are well-educated.  I have seldom met a witch or a satanist who
    does not at least have a bachelor's degree.  Those who have not attended
    or finished college have made up for it by voracious and eclectic reading
    and seldom can be distinguished from their more-educated co-religionists.

2.  We have LOTS of books.  Not all of those books, or even the majority of
    them, will be on occult topics.  Our bookshelves overflow with gardening
    books, cookbooks, science fiction, mysteries, anthropology texts and even
    romance novels.

3.  We have LOTS of pets.  Many of us have at least one, and usually more than
    one cat or dog or other cute little creature.  Mysteriously, these pets
    do not usually end their lives as blood sacrifices, but are cherished,
    coddled and taken to the vet as often as pets raised in Christian

4.  Not too many of us were raised without the benefits of "true religion".
    A startling number of both satanists and witches were raised Catholic, and
    most groups include former Lutherans, Baptists and even Jews.  A
    conventional religious background can even add to the fervor of our new
    religious feelings, and it certainly adds to the rituals.  Unless he has
    a theatrical background, it is a sad sight to see a lifelong atheist or
    agnostic conducting a ritual as High Priest--he usually won't have the
    experience to perform without self-consciousness or with truth conviction
    as a lapsed Christian can.

5.  Those occult people have funny names like Bob and Michael and Sue and
    Delores.  Certainly, you will find people named Morgain and Rhiannon and
    Shadowdancer and Wolf, but you will also find that they generally revert
    to their birth names outside of magical groups.

6.  They listen to a lot of music.  Oddly enough, this is seldom heavy metal
    or punk music with those vicious Satanic lyrics we've all been warned
    against.  Their record libraries generally contain a lot of folk music,
    Beatles albums, New Age compact disks, and even jazz.  They tend to
    subscribe to public radio and TV stations.

7.  As mentioned before, they eat a lot.  As many recipes are swapped after
    occult rituals as after church services, and not just for guaranteed love
    potions and remedies for charming off warts.

8.  People who are involved with the occult tend to be devoted followers of
    "Star Trek".  It is well known that almost all of the occult groups which
    hold their meetings on the same night that "Star Trek" is shown in their
    viewing area always finish their rituals in time to watch the show.  The
    reason for this is unknown.

9.  For some reason, a lot of the women have red hair.  I once had to get up
    at an occult conference and announce to the group that although Morgain,
    Mairi, and Maura all had red hair and glasses, we were not the same person
    and would appreciate it if people would bother to learn to distinguish us
    rather than addressing us indiscriminately by each other's names.  One
    would perhaps think that there is a genetic predisposition for redheads to
    go into magic were it not for the fact that most magical redheads dye
    their hair!  (Except for me, of course.)

10. Satanists and Witches are devoted to the Constitution of the United
    States, expecially the First Amendment which preserves their right to
    worship as much as it does that of fundamentalists, Lutherans, Catholics,
    Jews, Buddhists and Hindus.  I once heard a fundamentalist at an "occult
    seminar" reply to this argument that, except for the fundamentalists and
    the Lutherans, the rest of the people in that list were all damned and
    didn't deserve religious rights anyway.  I wonder why the Lutherans were

   Now then, Mr. and Mrs. Average American, don't these dreadful and
threatening occult types sound an awful lot like you and your spouse?  That
is, in fact, the most horrible truth which the modern witch-hunters are trying
to conceal from you.  If everyone knew the truth, that being a satanist or
witch can be as ordinary and normal and boring as being a Presbyterian, then
the witch-hunters would be out of a job.   Their mission would be unnecessary,
they would no longer be able to raise (and probably skim) funds, and they
themselves would become laughing stocks.

   Do you want the world to go on being deceived by the suppression of these
horrible truths?  If not, then spread them, promulgate them, foment them!  Let
the whole world know, and then maybe we can all get on with our lives in peace
and without fear.