Thelema Moral Panic Anyone

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The case of the West Memphis Three may have happened nineteen years ago, but as this latest bizarre story shows the the media is still going completely crazy over any crime that appears to involve occultism. According to initial reports, two young women got together with a man they met over the Internet, then tortured and stabbed him to death in a Satanic sexual ritual. No, wait, actually there was no murder, the supposed "ritual" involved no occult or Satanic components, the stabbing was apparently consensual cutting that got out of hand, and the man is not pressing charges. Wow. That went from "batshit insane" to "poorly executed BDSM scene without safewords" in about two seconds. But of course the news media outlets prefer the former fabricated account.

While at the apartment building, police were approached by Rebecca Chandler, 22, who stated, "I think you are here looking for me." Chandler told cops that she had engaged in sexual relations with the Arizona man "and that the cutting was consensual but that it got quickly out of hand."

Chandler claimed that her roommate--whom she identified only as "Scarlett"--was "the one who did the majority of the cutting" during the incident. Chandler, police reported, "also made reference to 'Scarlett' possibly being involved in satanic or occult activities."

Chandler was placed in custody at the scene. During a subsequent search of the apartment, investigators seized copies of "The Necromantic Ritual Book" and "The Werewolf's Guide to Life," a humor book. The former book promises to enable a reader to "share consiousness with the Angel of Death." Paperwork seized from the home was described by police as the "7 Pentacles" of planets. Additionally, a black folder was described as an "Intro to Sigilborne Spirtits," an apparent reference to "The Sigil-Born," metaphysical entities that are "occultic practitioners" of necromancy, the purported ability to contact the dead.

As an aside, in the Thoth Tarot the Seven of Disks is titled "Failure," which in this case seems about right.

It's clear to me that Chandler's roommate is no occultist. For those of you who were practicing magick in your twenties, think about it - how many occult books did you own? If it was less than a dozen I would be surprised, since by the time I was in my mid-twenties I probably owned hundreds. In my experience this holds true even for many practitioners who aren't well-off, since there are plenty of places you can find heavily discounted books on magick. But what did the police find when they searched the apartment? One Leilah Wendell book on necromancy, a humor book about werewolves, a folder with some spirit sigils, and paperwork referencing the aforementioned "Failure" Tarot trump. That's it. This young woman may have had an interest in necromancy, but from these limited materials "an interest" looks to be as far as it went.

Salon also has an article up by the auther of the aforementioned werewolf book discussing his feelings about being drawn into this case. I read it as a cautionary tale, because I know that if I sell enough of my own books on magick the day is going to come when somebody involved in a crime will own a copy and police will seize it as evidence. Then I'm sure the media will do the same thing as they did here and try to link my books on "evil Enochian magick" with devil worship or who knows what else, completely ignoring that "Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy" is about conjuring angels and the prayers of John Dee included as part of that process would not sound even remotely out of place at a Christian revival.

When I posted on the release of the West Memphis Three back in August I wrapped up that article by expressing my hope that it would represent the last gasp of the "Satanic panic" of the early 1990's. From the reaction to this case, though, I now realize that was a vain hope on my part. Sensationalism sells, so the media is going to keep blowing this stuff out of proportion as long as they can get away with it. I'm glad to see that the real facts surrounding this case came out fairly quickly, but at the same time I'm sure that the original made-up story is going to be set in a lot of peoples' minds for some time to come. It's not the sort of thing one easily forgets.

Suggested ebooks:

Aleister Crowley - The Drug Panic
Starhwak - The Spiral Dance

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