7 - I Interview Three Witches

Just as there are no two people who are exactly alike, even identical twins having different fingerprints and handwriting, there are no two witches who are exactly alike. Just as there are thousands of different sects that call themselves Christian, yet who are in violent opposition to each other; just as there are a myriad of varying viewpoints within the Catholic Church itself, ranging all the way from the Liberal to the Conservative to the Radical; just as there are millions in the world who proclaim themselves Moslems or Buddhists or Jews, within each religion, there are countless offshoots, schisms, deviations, splits and sects. To call someone an American or Christian or Jew or Negro or Witch tells us absolutely nothing about that person. It is a collective identification that denies the identity and individuality of the person.

The three witches I interviewed were totally dissimilar in outlook, viewpoint, background, philosophy and motivation. Only one of them, Elijah Hadynn, would permit his name to be used. So we'll start with him.

Elijah Hadynn

I was warmly greeted by Elijah Hadynn, at his apartment on East 10th Street, in New York's East Village, when I visited him on the rainy night of April 18, 1969. The interview was arranged by John R. Nichols, editor of STRANGE / UNKNOWN MAGAZINE, and a writer on witchcraft himself. He had previously interviewed and written about Mr. Hadynn. I was ushered into a living room which had cushions and pillows arranged alongside the four walls, on the floor, "Moroccan style, like my villa in Tangier" I told him. Some of his own paintings hung on the walls. "I don't believe in lots of furniture" he said. We sat on the floor cushions. I told him "I had planned to bring you a broom." Laughingly he replied "I could have used one."

Elijah Hadynn is a quiet, introspective young man, who looks more like a college student than a warlock (male witch). A glance at his handwriting told me that he was organized, systematic, ruled by his head rather than his heart, creative and constructive, and had the capacity to remain impersonal and detached from most situations; a far cry from the emotional hysteria characteristic of Middle Age witches. Backhand, precise, with clear well-executed letter formations, Mr. Hadynn was in full possession of his faculties, knew what he was and what he was doing at all times; the type of person who prefers to observe rather than participate.

"I usually prefer to be alone" he said. "Parties as a rule bore me." This was confirmed by his handwriting which revealed that he would be more interested in ideas rather than just people per se, unless they were intellectually stimulating. Far from being an impulsive, impressionable, easily swayed person his handwriting indicated self-possession, control and discipline .... he would be master of his witchcraft rather than having it master him ... he would use it positively rather than being used by it negatively ... and unlike so many who become involved with the occult because of emotional impulses and drives, his mind would always be the controlling and decisive factor in any undertaking.

Elijah Hadynn a young warlock who lives in New York City.

LLM: How did you first become aware that you were a witch?

EH: I always knew that I was different. I can remember the moment that I was born. It was on Cave Branch, in a little wooden house. I can vividly remember my first breath of air. I used to sleep with my hands outstretched with my thumb in between my two fingers. Years later I read that that was supposedly a sign of the witch. I often went on astral journeys. I'm ambidextrous, though I lean towards lefthandedness. I've had thirty six moles removed from my body ... another sign of the witch. My mother was born the day before Christmas. My great grandfather was a Cherokee medicine man. There were two gypsies present at my birth, and one of them had said earlier 'A great man will be born in that house.'"

Elijah Hadynn was born in the hills of south-eastern Kentucky. Here is a fragment of a poem written about his birth:

In old Kentucky's snow white hills,
Where tales of superstition grow,
A warlock was born this day,
Whose destiny the gypsies know.

His hair was white, it matched the snow
That fell from cold and darkening skies.
And as he grew, the magic gleam
Flashed deep within his soulful eyes.

LLM: Do you belong to a coven in New York?

EH: No. I'm basically a loner. If I do join one I intend to make absolutely sure that it's genuine.

LLM: How many-other witches do you personally know here?

EH: I personally know only two others. One is a burlesque queen. The other a male witch. Of course I know of many many others.

LLM: What do you consider the best book on Witchcraft for the budding witch?

EH: One of the best is the Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology by Rossell Hope Robbins. It's full of facts and fascinating pictures of witches, especially during the time of the Dark Ages.

LLM: Do you know Sybil Leek?

EH: Yes. When we first met she was intrigued by my name, repeating it several times, saying "How lovely are the old names." She's a marvelous woman with a great sense of humor.

LLM: Do you believe in Reincarnation?

EH: Yes I do. I know that I have lived in the past and will exist again in another form in the future. This is what the Old Religion teaches. It's not something that I simply believe but something that I have always known. Sybil Leek and I both accept reincarnation as well as Astrology. Sybil Leek's grandmother used to bake cookies that had the signs of the zodiac on them.

LLM: Psychiatrists claim that the only reason why witchcraft works is because one believes in it. No belief ... no power. What's your viewpoint on this?

EH: The same could be said for psychiatry. Patients have spent fortunes going from one psychiatrist to another because they weren't being helped. It's what psychoanalysis calls "negative transference." It simply means that the patient isn't getting better, and the psychiatrist can't reach him. "Positive transference" simply means that the patient "believes' in him. So he's helped. Regardless of the techniques used it all boils down to the same thing: Faith and trust. Furthermore, psychiatry it-self isn't an exact science and when you stop to consider the many opposing schools of thought ... Freud, Jung, Adler, so many others ... the kettle can't call the pot black!

LLM: One psychologist has said, "Witches, sorcerers and the like are still trying to magically wish away the terrors of their own childhood. Instead of being afraid of bogeymen at night they resolve this by becoming bogeymen themselves." Is this true? (We both broke-up laughing at this question!)

EH: No, it's not true in the cases I know. That doesn't mean that it doesn't apply in all cases. But the question here is why do people become ministers, rabbis, priests, psychiatrists and psychologists? Aren't the former trying to align themselves on the side of God as appeasement for their own unresolved fears? And aren't the latter doing the same thing without religion? And their answer would be, "No, not true in all cases, but ..." In any event that's what they say but how do we know?

LLM: What do you think of organized religion?

EH: I don't believe in organized religion. They have caused mankind great unhappiness, burdened people with guilt, created conflicts, so that most people can't live a full life on earth, can't really enjoy themselves without looking over their shoulder in fear that the "Hand of God" would punish them. The most unhappy people I know are very religious. What has witchcraft ever done in this world to compare with the bloodshed and tyranny caused by organized religion? When I think of this, if I wasn't a witch, then I'd have to become one.

LLM: Anton LaVey, high priest of the Satanist Church in San Francisco, has called white witches neo-pagan Christians, skulking around under a burden of guilt, afraid to be called evil, tea shoppe witches, plump little women sitting around threatening to turn each other into toads." Any comment?

EH: I don't accept that. I'm not interested in black magic or black witches, so-called. I call what I do white witchcraft because it's for good, to help others and myself. White witches have minds of their own and the Christian Church plays no part in our basic views. Just look into history and you'll find that white witches have always overpowered the black practitioners. White witchcraft has existed long before there ever was a Christian religion, as any historian can prove.

LLM: Isn't the devil or Satan as we have come to know him the creation of Christian theologians rather than that of the pre-Biblical Old Religion?

EH: Yes, definitely. The devil or the host of other names given to him, has never been given so much attention as it has in the Catholic Church. No other God of Darkness has been so deified in other religions as it has been in Christianity. One could ask: Is the Satan one worships a Christian black God or that of the Old Religion?

LLM: Could you elucidate more on White Magic?

EH: Yes, let me quote you from my article in the May-June 1969 PERSONAL HOROSCOPE MAGAZINE, entitled "What Is White Magie?"

A true witch knows that it is wise to take no notice of opposites or extremes. To divide the world into black and white, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, is to fail to look at it with real scrutiny. Magic is a power, in much the same way that nuclear energy or electricity is a power. Like these forces magic exists throughout the whole of creation, waiting for practitioners to cast its spells in unusual and unexpected ways. But it lies dormant and has no real character of its own until used. It is the character of the person who employs, magic that determines what kind of label it may claim. In the hands of the unscrupulous and malevolent person, magic is, according to the way most people think, black. But if a knowledgeable individual who is generally kind and thoughtful of others, uses magic, it becomes a wonderful tool, a potent and amazingly beneficial tool for mankind. Such a person is a miracle worker who heals, cures, and fixes things that are broken. Because he sees more clearly than most, he is able to guide ordinary people into paths of good fortune. In its pure state, magic is neither good nor bad. It is simply magic."

LLM: Do you engage in any witchcraft rituals, and if so what objects do you use?

EH: No, I don't engage in the usual rituals, with the exception of candles and of course herbs. Mine is more of a mental ritual rather than a physical one.

LLM: How do you earn your living?

EH: I'm both a practitioner and a teacher of Yoga. I have private students and classes. Yoga has helped me greatly as I've always had a health problem. The self-control over the body obtained by Hatha Yoga is now scientifically accepted, yet it is a natural method, one long known to witches, yogis, fakirs and mystics before science discovered that it works. I also write articles for various magazines such as STRANGE I UNKNOWN and YOUR PERSONAL HOROSCOPE.

Mr. Hadynn then gave me copies of these magazines which had articles both by and about him. I noted that on the inside back cover of the first there was an advertisement for books including two of mine IT'S IN THE CARDS and IT'S IN THE STARS.

In an article "The White Witches of England" by John R. Nichols in the Jan.-Feb. issue of Personal Horoscope the author tells about a personal experience he had with Elijah Hadynn:"

"Of course, witches do practice incantations, and rely on the powers of magic to accomplish their ends. On one occasion, to show me how such tricks work, Elijah put a broomstick in the corner of a room to get rid of an unwanted guest.

Two engravings showing an "invasion of succubi and incubi" and Paracelsus fighting against ghosts. The succubi were females who tempted men while they slept Adversely, the incubi caused erotic dreams and disturbed the sleep of women.

He explained that the guest would stay no more than a half-hour after the broomstick had been placed. For a few minutes I doubted the efficacy of this procedure. The guest seemed intrigued by the sound of his own voice, and he talked on and on at an increasingly rapid rate. Suddenly, after only fifteen minutes had passed, he stood up and said, 'I must be going.' Without further ado, he wished us farewell and was gone.

The Baron

Unfortunately I can't give any details on the Baron except to say that he is a direct descendant of a titled European family. I promised to protect his identity. He is well known in his own right with friends and contacts in the social, political and entertainment worlds. Though he is a warlock (male witch) he doesn't seek publicity. His activities in this area are known only to a few close friends and they form a closely-knit coven in New York. I found out later that the Baron had done his homework on me! He had heard me on radio, seen me on TV, and showed me three of my own books which he had read.

The first thing the Baron said to me when I met him was "Greetings fellow witch!" We both laughed. I asked him "Why did you call me a witch?" His answer: "Because you are, whether you know it or not, whether you prefer to call yourself one or not. Your work, your appearance, your hands, your writings, your views .... if you had lived during the Inquisition you would have been burned at the stake, but then, on second thought, you may not have been .... you would have beat your accusers to it by accusing them before they could accuse you. I know this from having read your book on Psychic Blackmail."

LLM: That's funny. For years many of my friends have jokingly called me a witch. That triggers off a memory:

When I was about five or six years old I invented a game called The Witch which I played while in St. Anne's Orphanage, Worcester, Mass. Of course I was the Witch. While living with my father and attending school in South-bridge, Mass. I was already experimenting with palmistry, studying handwriting analysis, doing hypnotism. Because of this many people thought I had the "Evil Eye." I mention this in my book HIDDEN WORLDS OF HYPNOTISM. But I prefer to talk about you. How did you find out that you're a witch?

Baron: One of my ancestors was tortured and then burned at the stake. My mother told me about this when I was thirteen, in Europe. Here let me show you.

The Baron brought out an old, yellowing, book, the pages were ragged around the edges, the print was small but ornate, there were many illustrations of witches, torture implements, and a chronology of persons condemned by the Inquisition. This was in a foreign print so I could not read it. I cannot identify the language, or rather won't, in order to protect the Baron. He showed me a name which was the same as his own real name.

LLM: Are you saying that witches run in the family? That witchcraft is something inherited rather than acquired?

Baron: No, not in a hereditary, or genetic sense. A child of a witch brought up by nonwitches wouldn't be a witch ... at least not a practicing one. It is possible that such a child would discover his or her innate faculties later on. No child is born a Catholic or Protestant. He is taught that. Same with witches. Witchcraft, like any other belief, is more a state of mind than of circumstance. I distinctly remember the profound sense of shock, of injustice and identification to my murdered ancestor, when my mother told me about him and our family history. She warned me never to mention it to anyone. My father had brought home a Eucharist he had received at Holy Communion.

Looking me straight in the eye he said: "You will promise never to reveal this to anyone. You will work to avenge the death of your ancestor. Here." My father shoved a dagger into my hand and said "Stab the host. Stab it." I was terrified. Finally after my father had shouted "Stab the host" again I suddenly plunged the knife into it ... not once, but again and again and again until it was torn to smithereens. I was exhausted, frightened, and in my confusion started to cry uncontrollably.

I hated my father for asking me to do such an evil thing. Then both my mother and my father held me and my father spoke to me gently: "Forgive me if I upset you. You did not do an evil thing. The priests and nuns told you that the Eucharist was the body and blood of Jesus Christ. That if you cut into it it would bleed. What they have told you is evil. See? Nothing happened. It's just a piece of bread. They lied to you. You haven't done anything wrong. You've just killed a lie. Look at those pieces of blessed bread? Where's the blood? They lied to you. They killed your ancestor. Never let anyone know. But you, son, now know the truth. What you did could only be a sin if it was true. It isn't."

LLM: That must have been a terribly traumatic experience for a young boy. Did your parents practice witchcraft. Did they tell you they were witches and that you were one too?

Baron: Yes. My father was a very logical man, astute in business, owned lots of property. He was good friends with the local priests. They thought that when he died he would leave them some of his property. He led them to believe this. He made contributions to the church, kept up appearances with my mother, attended Mass and other church services. For years ... long before they told me about my ancestor .... they sent me to my cousin's home after Mass each Sunday. I found out later that they had brought home the two hosts and stabbed them, after they went through a mock ceremony of the Mass, with black candles shaped like the male genitals, which both my mother and father made themselves. They called upon the devil, the Black Legion, the denizens of Hell, and at the end ritually stabbed the hosts.

Prior to my parents coming to America they had sold their properties, one by one, clandestinely. The contract that my father drew up stated that if any word of the sale leaked out before he left the country the sale would be null and void. Not even my cousins knew what he was doing. When we finally left, supposedly on a pleasure trip to America, and the new owners declared themselves, two of them Jews, all bedlam broke loose.

The priests almost had apoplexy. The property that they hoped to get for themselves was now owned by a Jewish businessman! We laughed ourselves sick when my cousin sent us a letter saying "How could you do such a thing, and not even letting us know? The whole town's been talking about it ever since you left. The priest gave a sermon last Sunday and he said: The killers of Christ now own property that was promised to the Church. God will punish those responsible." LLM: Have you practiced the Black Mass?

Baron: Yes, but we do it more as a joke. I don't believe in any Christian Gods or Devils. And unlike many Satanists we have absolutely no sense of evil about ourselves. As you yourself wrote in your Psychic Blackmail book: "Never accept an unearned guilt." My parents were more religious, in their unorthodox way, than I.

I have the same revulsion towards religious fanatics, especially Catholics, as they would have towards me for stabbing the Eucharist. But unlike them we and our ancestors haven't killed anyone. They can't stab a Eucharist but they stab their fellowman in the back every day. They look upon the Black Mass as evil but have no scruples about keeping the Black Masses (Negroes in America as one example) under their lily-white Christian feet.

The Alchemist. Alchemy is a branch of the occult arts that reached, its peak during the Middle Ages.

LLM: Your views are similar to your friend Maria's (another witch that I interviewed): What's more they're rational ... or is that a dirty word to witches?

Baron: Not to rational witches! (We both laughed at the seeming contradiction in terms!)

LLM: How do you use Witchcraft in your life?

Baron: Simple. The minute I hear any priest or minister espousing some theological cause I immediately take the opposite view. Pray to God? I'll pray to the devil! I'm not in full agreement with all of the Ten Commandments but those I can accept I do only because they were plagiarized from the Code of Hammurabi. As to rituals: Yes, I practice some of them. I use herbs, candles, Holy Wafers, meditation, concentration, yoga, hypnotism ... I'm an expert at self-hypnosis and I can anaesthetize my whole body ... want to see?

LLM: Yes I would.

Baron: Just give me a couple of minutes. (The Baron then put himself into a trance. His breathing became heavy. His body was limp. Then he opened his eyes and said) "Watch". At this he pulled a long needle out of a leather case, lit a match under it "To sterilize any germs" he said and proceeded to stick the needle right through his cheek. "Examine it" he said "to make sure it's not a trick needle." I did. It was genuine. He inserted the needle into his hand, his leg, his ear lobe, his under lip. No pain. No blood. Not a wince.'

LLM: If many of the witches and innocents during the Inquisition knew how to do that they would not only have completely frustrated their tormentors but would have died painless.

Baron: So true ... so true. They knew about, and used, what used to be called animal magnetism, the Evil Eye, and later Mesmerism, but unfortunately it wasn't as highly developed as it is now ... it was a hit and miss proposition then. I sincerely hope that some of them could do it ... for their sakes.

LLM: Of course hypnotism has nothing to do with witchcraft ... it's a natural phenomena.

Baron: Of course it is. Just what the hell do you think witchcraft is all about? Everything considered witchcraft by the Church turned out to be scientific fact: Electricity, electric lights, airplanes, anaesthetics, hypnotism, the earth being round etc. etc. Many of the medicines and cures were based on the natural medicinal properties of various herbs. Scientists today are taking a second look at many of the remedies used by witchdoctors in the past and discovering new so-called "miracle drugs" in them.

From Astrology to Astronomy, from Alchemy to Chemistry, from animal magnetism to modern hypnotism, from trance inducing drugs to truth serums, from astral flights to airplanes, all of them had their origin in the ancient beliefs, in Witchcraft, in the Old Religion. And modern hypnotism has played a part in all ancient religious ceremonies, though neither called nor known as such then. The constant beat of the torn torn, the incense, the fires, the monotonous chants, the droned prayers, all of this supercharged suggestion led to trances, visions, possessions, some remarkable bodily feats, including the walking through fire, on burning coals, etc.

Just because modern hypnotists have stripped their subject of all religious, occult or mystical trappings doesn't mean that it wasn't hypnotism. In fact it was these very trappings that made the trance state all the more possible ... and powerful.

LLM: How do you think most people who know you would react if they found out that you were a witch?

Baron: They probably wouldn't believe it, or would laugh it off. My intimate friends are twelve, male and female, and with myself we have our own coven. You're the first person outside of this group to know about it You came highly recommended by Maria who read your ad in the Village Voice. When she told me about you I showed her your books. Your name rang a bell in my mind. Maria is one of us.

LLM: Since most witches believe in Reincarnation isn't it possible, according to their own views, that some of the burned Inquisitional witches have reincarnated into dissenting Catholic priests?

Baron: Definitely. The Law of Karma is always operating, whether one accepts Reincarnation or not. It's cause and effect. Since the Church itself believes in souls, celebrating All Soul's Day, these souls who were unjustly tortured and burned at the stake will haunt the Catholic Church until it's totally destroyed. I truly believe-that the souls of thousands of witches have reincarnated into dissenting Catholic priests. And those burned in Salem have reincarnated into rebel and radical ministers. Not to do evil but to right a wrong. Not so much out of" revenge ... though justified ... but for justice.

Christianity can have no objection to that: It's entire theology is based upon punishment and reward ... Heaven, Hell, Limbo, Purgatory .... the early Church believed in Reincarnation but got rid of that idea as not being in her best interests ... many publicized witches have claimed that they are not anti-Christian, and exist only to do good, but if that was true they would have to be anti-Christian.

As you yourself wrote: "How can you condemn and condone a thing at the same time?" How can a witch believe in Reincarnation, in Karma, and then Christianize themselves by talking about forgiveness? Are murderers, rapists, muggers or criminals forgiven in our society? What about the Nazis who are still being discovered and tried and sentenced in Germany right now? And what about the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials? Did the Jews forgive Adolf Eichmann when they captured him in Argentina and forced him aboard an Israeli plane?

Sorcerers were popularly imagined to appear as this one does.

They later convicted and sentenced him for being responsible for the murder of millions of Jews. Strange that those who claim to believe in Law and Order, in Justice, in Civil Rights, in God, in Religious Freedom, are often the same ones who, without investigation and certainly no facts, have condemned the practice of witchcraft as something evil or irrational yet see no contradiction in their own beliefs and practices ... crossing themselves, knocking on wood, using "Holy" water, buying indulgences, receiving Holy Communion, being afraid of the devil, praying to an unseen God, believing in the Hereafter, lighting candles, burning incense, having their houses "blessed," exorcising evil spirits, belief in the "Resurrection of the body of Jesus Christ" and on and on and on.

LLM: You raise an interesting point. What do you think of an International Tribunal to try the Catholic Church, its Inquisition, Its Popes, the Inquisitors themselves posthumously, something along the lines of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials?

Baron: I wish I had thought of that! .... You certainly come up with the damndest ideas I ever heard ... Witch .. Yes ... yes ... why not? Did someone say "Crime doesn't pay?" Or is "getting away with murder" more appropriate? Come to think of it: When has there ever been an official condemnation by secular governments or churches themselves? In fact some of the Inquisitors were canonized as saints by the Church.

(Note: Two blood-thirsty Inquisitors, the Italian, Peter Martyr of Verona (d. 1365) and the Spaniard, Pedro Arues (d. 1485) were later canonized as "Saints" by Pope Pius IX. In every hearing for sainthood there is a trial in which the Devil's Advocate takes the opposing view, supposedly, yet in the light of the above he is aptly named! The Catholic Church also pays homage to the following Saints ... Philomena, Rene, Corona, Reine. The only problem here is that .... they never existed!)

LLM: Do you think that descendants of the Salem; Mass, witches who were hanged and crushed should sue that city and any existing churches for reparations? If nothing else sue to clear the names of their ancestors? To .demand a public confession and apology from modern day church officials for the atrocities committed by their forebears?

Baron: Here we go again! I never thought of that either yet it's perfectly logical. Wasn't there a case in the newspapers recently by a descendant of one of General Ouster's men who was tried for treason? His descendant fought in the courts to have his ancestor's name exonerated. He won. He, through the help of a writer, proved that General Custer was an incompetent, vainglorious, bumbling idiot. It shouldn't be more difficult to prove the same about the Salem sadists. I sincerely pray that some descendant of a so-called witch, one who can prove it genealogically, reads this and acts upon it.

LLM: Yes, that case is what gave me the idea. As I point out in my Psychic Blackmail book many wronged people give what I call the "sanction of the victim" to their abusers .... one of the worst sanctions of evil is say-nothing do-nothing silence. If you were a descendant of a Salem executed witch would you sue?

Baron: I certainly would. First I'd look into all the legal possibilities and would not proceed without an excellent lawyer. However, as you know, I'm a descendant of a European Witch. As an American citizen it would be impracticable for me to sue the Catholic Church in Rome. Then too I don't want any publicity. I intend to write to friends in Europe about this though. (Intuitively we both began to laugh hysterically ... we both simultaneously had visions of the newspaper headlines around the world!)

LLM: Isn't the Establishment's "recognition" of "established or recognized religions" discrimination against offbeat, minority religions like Witchcraft, and isn't this a violation of their Civil Rights?

Baron: Laughing ... It sure is! Our Constitution stresses Separation of Church and State but the fact is that most of our government officials are members of "recognized religions" ... they do discriminate against minority religions ... how many of the latter have gotten tax-free land from the government? And what right have they to "approve" of theological seminaries, giving respect to its graduate priests and ministers, and condemning as "phony" ministers of unorthodox minority religious just because they haven't the money or the power to institutionalize themselves ...

LLM: Do you have any children?

Baron: I have a married son. Both he and his wife are very happy. They get a big kick out of belonging to our New York coven, their "underground religion" as they call it. He's an attorney and his wife is a freelance writer and has also done interior decorating. Both firmly believe in the power of -thought. Both consider themselves witches. The reason none of us let others, know is because we feel that it would dilute our strength. It's not so much fear ... we don't have any and would be prepared to strike back at any attacker .... it's a matter of conserving our power, our strength, our unity in maintaining our secret coven ... it's a source of inspiration, a secret society in which we enjoy ourselves and each other. We don't want it polluted by exposing it to the public.

LLM: What do you think is the reason for the sudden increased interest in witchcraft?

Baron: Poetic justice. They tried to exterminate witches and only forced them underground. They tried to exterminate the Jews and the result of that is the state of Israel. The law of Karma. Christianity plagiarized most of its doctrines from older religions, including the oldest, Witchcraft. Now it has come back to haunt the Church. What is that line? "The evil one does lives after him ...?"


Maria is the woman who contacted me through my Village Voice advertisement and mentioned in the chapter "The Curse On The Catholic Church." In her sixties, Maria is a very well groomed, handsome woman, in perfect health, good-humored and describes herself as a "Militant witch." She lives alone in an Eastside New York apartment not too far from her friend The Baron. Widowed for the past fifteen years she has two grown children, a son and a daughter, both married with children of their own.

LLM: Are your children witches too? Do they share in your beliefs?

Maria: Yes, we're very close. My son lives in California. My daughter lives in Washington. By every definition of the Catholic Church who burned my ancestors at the stake they and I would be considered witches. My children lead very normal lives. They don't practice witchcraft in the usual sense, and there's nothing to distinguish them from other people. Both my children are active in Civil Rights and in Libertarian causes. Neither of them go in for the usual rituals associated with Witchcraft. They accept it psychologically and with friends joke about being witches. It's a mental attitude ... a way of life ... the same as when someone refers to himself as a Christian. Philosophically we're in complete agreement.

Pretty women were often plagued by the devil in medieval times. Here, in an unusual instance, the devil is tempting the woman from behind.

Professionally of course neither my son nor my daughter can afford to let others know about this. Their spouses are in complete sympathy. I've been very fortunate in that both my children are happily married. All of us despise the Catholic Church as evil. We curse it every day of our lives.

LLM: Can you tell me something about your ancestors? Who were they? Where did they come from?

Maria: My ancestors came from the town of Albi, in France. We became known as Albigenses. We belonged to a sect that called itself the Cathari, meaning pure. (Note: In psychoanalysis a catharsis means an emotional "cleaning out.") They taught that the God of the Old Testament was really Satan, that Jesus was the good God, and all of them refused to eat any meat except fish. They didn't believe in baptism but in Consolation, which was the "laying on of hands." This was the initiation. One of my ancestors belonged to an inner group called the Perfect who vowed themselves to celibacy. They were ascetics.

Pope Innocent III in 1208 preached a crusade against the Albigenses. Under Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, there was a twenty year reign of terror in which thousands were murdered, hanged, pillaged and burnt, by these Christian Crusaders. It was in 1232 when the Inquisition was set up to destroy what the Church called a heresy. Anyone or any group who had any ideas contrary to those approved by Rome were slaughtered. Pope Innocent .... what an obscenity! My ancestors were murdered by this madman, this Middle Age Nazi, and he and every one of his successors should be called Pope Guilty. My ancestors were true Christian martyrs, true saints, and it's to them that we pray.

LLM: Then at the beginning you were not so much witches as you were Christian ascetics?

Maria: True. But one of my ancestors, with the same name as myself, Maria, was a very unusual person. She knew all about herbs and natural medicines and told fortunes. She was so popular in Albi, so many people came to her, that the local priest was jealous and when the Inquisition was set up in 1232 she was accused of witchcraft, tortured, and then burned at the stake. She cursed all of them even while dying on the stake. Whole towns were wiped out. It's a miracle that any of us survived. The only way we did was because some of my ancestors joined religious orders of monks and nuns and when things calmed down they left and married. Our story has been handed down to us from generation to to generation. You can learn more about us by reading Lea's History of The Inquisition ... by "us" I mean the Albigenses.

LLM: Have you practiced the Black Mass?

Maria: Yes, of course, But as The Baron told you we don't consider it evil in the least. We have no sense of guilt about "blaspheming" the so-called sacred Mass or Eucharist. As I told you my cousin is a priest. He's a brilliant and a brave man. One day soon he will be ready to make his move. For years he has collected data, documents and files on the inner workings of the Catholic Church. Unbeknownst to the other priests he tape-recorded many of their conversations about politics and policies, especially one by his bishop. He has a very mathematical, scientific mind, and is very good with figures. Because of this he was put in charge of finances. He's kept records ... two sets of books ... one officially for the church, the other for himself. He intends to publish all of this one day.

He had made duplicate copies of everything and they're in a vault with instructions of what is to be done with this material in case he should suddenly die before he leaves the priesthood. The things he's told us about the priests and their girlfriends, and some with boyfriends, would shock most Catholics into becoming Atheists. He was a good friend of Father (name omitted) who has since left the church, married and wrote that book. Of course Father (name omitted) knows nothing about my cousin's background or motives or reasons for being a priest.

LLM: Of course you're no longer a practising Catholic.

Maria: Oh! But I am! I attend Mass every Sunday at St. Patrick's Cathedral. I go to Confession. The difference between me and other "practicing" Catholics is that I don't swallow the Eucharist. I take it out by placing my handkerchief in front of my mouth. No one knows the difference. I bring it home and either keep it for our Black Mass when our coven gets together or I ritually stab it in the name of my murdered ancestors, in the name of the Christ who supposedly died to save us and instead permitted millions to die in order to save His name. And let me tell you, I only wish that it was true that it was the body and blood of Jesus Christ as the Church teaches.

I'd have no hesitation in spilling the blood of a God or a Christ who permitted so much bloodshed in their names. I'd gladly go to hell for it. Unfortunately, we know for a fact that this is all hogwash, a lie to keep simple minded, guilt-ridden Catholics and other Christians spiritually enslaved. I don't believe in hell. I don't believe in anything that the Church calls sacred. Their very existence is a sacrilege.

As for my being a quote practicing Catholic unquote, well I've never met a truly practicing Catholic in all of my sixty seven years and I've known thousands. They all went through the rituals, went to Mass, Holy Communion, married, if possible, in the church, had their children baptized, went to Confession, and lived lives the complete opposite of everything they claimed to believe in.

LLM: Yes, I've noticed that too. I've found that the ones who defend their religious beliefs the most violently are the same ones who least practice their religion. The more militant they are in defense of their religion the more I've noticed that these same people were the most immoral in their personal lives. It's a defense against their own guilt.

Maria: How right you are! Bravo! Look at the Catholic opposition to birth control and legalized abortion in this country .... a perfect example of a religious viewpoint being forced upon everyone else in a supposedly secular society. And one of their claims about "taking the life of an unborn child" being the main reason for the opposition. Where was this pious concern for human life when they murdered millions during the Inquisition, the Crusades and in their "Holy" wars? They're nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. Or maybe they're saying "Don't you kill your own child. Raise him as another contributing Catholic to the Church. And maybe someday we can once again have the power and the exclusive privilege of killing him for you."

LLM: Yes, the Pope's last encyclical Popularum Progressio (On The Development of People) said that private property was not an exclusive right and that richer nations should help poorer nations, yet the Catholics in New York spent over a million dollars to defeat the Abortion Reform Bill ... how many starving people in the world could this have kept alive ... yet this money was spent to supposedly save the unborn while thousands in Biafra died of starvation. I've always maintained that the attempt of Catholics to impose their beliefs legislatively on others is really an underestimation and a distrust of their own fellow Catholics and of themselves. They should know. But tell me, Maria, how do you use witchcraft in your daily life?

Maria: I'll give you one example. About a month ago while attending Mass with this phony old bag who parades her religion like some sort of banner of achievement, I concentrated on her falling down just before she got to the altar. Before we entered the church I said to her "Watch your step now. Don't fall."

When the witches returned from the sabbath they would change their shape to avoid outside curiosity from onlookers or the police. They, however, did not always succeed in camouflaging themselves and many at the request of the Inquisition were burnt alive.

Of course I used suggestion. That's what one part of witchcraft is all about. Well this bitch ... note I said bitch, not witch ... I wouldn't pay her that compliment! ... got up to go to Holy Communion mustering all the sanctity that she could conjure up in that dilapidated puss of hers, so preoccupied with having others think of her as a "pure soul" that she stumbled and landed right on her ass ... The ass! I had to control myself not to burst out laughing. Later I was at my most sympathetic when I said to her "It's a good thing that you were in a state of grace otherwise you could have broken a leg!" A state of grace is the one thing that old bag has never been in. (At this we both burst out laughing and she went into the kitchen to pour two more cups of coffee!)

LLM: What do you think of some of the publicized witches and the growing attraction to it?

Maria: I don't think too much about them one way or another. I believe in ... what's the popular expression? .. oh yes! ... letting them "do their own thing." As far as I'm concerned the more the merrier. As you know genuine covens are conducted in the nude. It seems that many of today's young people are practicing their own "hip" version of witchcraft, especially the public disrobing on streets, in the park, on stage etc. Their total alienation from established religions. Their pursuit of mysticism and other occult matters.) I don't say that they're completely right but they certainly can't be any more wrong than their elders ... that's for damn sure! Then too, many of them identify with the underdog and when they read the history of the Inquisition and other injustices committed by the Established Authorities they want no part of such evil.

LLM: The claim has been made that the witches' broomstick is a phallic symbol. Do you agree?

Maria: Of course it is. So are the candles burned in churches, the steeples, the domes, the cuppolas, in fact the cross itself is a phallic symbol!

LLM: Do you think that in most religious rituals, including witchcraft, that there is an underlying sexuality?

Maria: Definitely. Of course it's repressed or unconscious for the most part I truly believe that all psychic power has its source in sexuality. And why not? Sex is the basis of life. It is the first creative act from which all other creative acts spring. Even in this Age of Enlightenment psychiatrists haven't been able to completely understand all the facets about sex. Look at homosexuality. You find as many different theories as to its cause as there are psychiatrists. Primitive man must have been in awe of his own body, especially the genitals which seemed to have a magical "mind of their own."

You can easily see from this how he projected himself into all kinds of magical images, totems and the like. Today these would be called phallic symbols. The idea of the Resurrection of the body, celebrated on Easter Sunday, is a pre-Christian belief and may have had its origin in antiquity in primitive man's awe over the rise and fall ... the resurrection ... of his own male organ. The belief in a life after death originated in the dreams of primitive men who saw and talked with their dead relatives and friends while asleep. The magician's wand, the musician's baton, the witch's broomstick, the candles used in most religions ... all of them are phallic symbols. Why these particular shapes? Why not a palm leaf or fan instead of a baton, wand or broomstick? Why circular candles? Why not square ones?

LLM: I've met some persons who claimed to be witches but they had no power whatsoever, least of all over themselves. They seemed unhappy hate-filled people, insignificant, and were trying to claim an unearned ability. Have you ever encountered any of these types?

Maria: Yes, I have. I know exactly what you mean. They're not exactly phonies, though some are, but miserable little souls who try to work on the fears of others, who really hate their fellowmen and most of all themselves, the kind who leave dead rats on doorsteps or send bloodstained handkerchiefs through the mail. Funny thing ... not one of them was ever able to recognize me as a witch. A true witch can tell another ... it's a psychic thing ... something like the communication that exists between a man and a woman who are attracted to each other. And you're right, these people are trying to gain a power over others because they themselves have nothing to offer. Mindless souls burdened with guilts usually fall into their clutches ... the same thing with those Gypsies who fell women that their money is cursed and fleece them out of their life savings. They're not witches, just shrewd operators, really criminals, yet these are the ones who the public thinks of when they hear "witch". Some of them are psychic, have some ability, but it's not very well developed ... if it was they wouldn't be such miserable and unhappy creatures.

LLM: What do you think is the future of witchcraft?

Maria: It will one-day be the leading religion but it will never be an organized religion. It will reclaim its heritage. And it won't be Christianized Witchcraft, those stupid stories and unbelievable confessions gotten by torture during the Inquisition. Those poor souls confessed to anything just to be relieved of their agony. What the Church called Witchcraft was really a projection of their own evil souls and had absolutely nothing to do with Witchcraft as the Old Religion. Many modern witches are still the victims of what the Church called a Witch. They're not practicing the Witchcraft Religion but the Christian version of it. In other words they're practicing Christianity in reverse!

LLM: What you're saying is that some of these witches aren't really witches that exist independently, but are or become what the Church and society believes them to be?

Maria: That's right! They're Christian Witches. The image of the witch that most people have, including atheists, is the one invented by the Church and accepted without question by the public. For instance: There are millions of people in the U.S. alone who have either moles or birthmarks on their bodies. During the Inquisition this was considered the sign of a witch! Any person who was unusual in any way, whether a genius or a moron, any person bora with some kind of defect ... clubfoot, crossed eyes, harelip, a mongoloid child ... this was either a sign of sin, a pack with Satan or proof of being a witch. Another thing: Any person who kept one or more animals in his home was highly suspected of being a witch. It amuses me to think about how many people who condemn witches as either evil or nonsense would themselves have been burning at the stake if they lived during the Inquisition!

Circle of Cleopatra