Numinous and Concrete
Predators in Paganism
I didn't see him for many years, barring one hour-long visit while he was in college and I was in town. Even after he moved to Northern California with his pregnant partner and got involved with a local community, we weren't in touch. He started a photography business.
Then a series of events happened in quick succession. I'm not even certain of the proper order.
He'd been helping at a Pagan teen camp and later tried to set up meetings with a thirteen-year-old from the camp. Steps were taken. Parents alerted. I think the police were called. He was barred from that community.
Then came a Child Protective Services case, which I can't really talk about, which ended in tragedy, and was the cause of huge upheaval involving three communities. People were writing and calling me, asking for information about this person they had known, or been friends with, or who had come to rituals, or had taken classes, or asked for initiation. I was under a gag order and forbidden to talk about it. All I could say was "Tread carefully." So he was able to continue to influence people into thinking he was a nice guy who was being wronged.
He wasn't. He was and is a very sick man.
I asked a psychotherapist how I had been so fooled by him when he was young. She replied that there are certain diseases that lay dormant until hormones change in a person's early twenties. Perhaps that is what happened here. Or perhaps I wasn't yet savvy enough as a teacher to notice. Or perhaps there were other reasons.
All I know is, from the minute I saw him again, outside the CPS hearing, before knowing details about the case, it was clear he was deeply disturbed. He may have sensed I knew it, because he could barely look at me, though he was greeting others. By this time, his late twenties, it was clear to me something in him had twisted.
During the course of the meeting, he was thoroughly unmasked to me. The words that came out of his mouth struck me as the classic reasoning, blaming, and deflections of an abuser. Why would I think this? I heard enough similar things in my family of origin.
Some people said they knew for years something was wrong with him. I didn't. Nor did other people much closer to him than I, though by more recent years it had apparently become clearer to some that he was disturbed.
But not so clearly disturbed that a local community didn't offer him the chance to assist at a camp for teens.
Not so clearly disturbed that people didn't still defend him, including someone else at the same meeting I was in.
Not so disturbed that he couldn't move back to Illinois and begin affiliation with a magical lodge.
Not so disturbed that he couldn't run a successful photography business. One that enabled him to take school portraits.
That is the job that, thank the Gods, led to his arrest.
He was caught in a school bathroom taking surreptitious camera photos of boys urinating.
He is currently in prison and a registered sex offender.
I could have let this ride. I could have not written about this. But he gets out of prison in 2018, unless he is eligible for parole, in which case release could be sooner. He has already affected at least three communities I know of. He may be back.
So I'm telling you now: his name is Benjamin K. Sangraal. Sometimes known as Sabre. He is handsome. Sometimes charming.
And like Kenny Klein, I wouldn't let him near your children. And I would never let him take your photograph.
T. Thorn Coyle is an internationally respected visionary and teacher of the magical and esoteric arts. The author of Make Magic of Your Life, Kissing the Limitless, and Evolutionary Witchcraft, she hosts the Elemental Castings podcast series, writes the blog Know Thyself, and has produced several CDs of sacred music. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook!