Recognizing & Dealing With Psychopaths In The Pagan, Occult & Witch Communities

Recognizing & Dealing With Psychopaths In The Pagan, Occult & Witch Communities October 19, 2018

Brilliant at hiding their true evil, psychopaths walk among us in the pagan and witch worlds, inflicting harm wherever they go. Typically leaders, they wear the robes of leadership to disguise their evil nature. We’re left dealing with the hurt. The way to protect ourselves is to know the signs before it’s too late. 

There always seems to be a fresh story of a psychopath in the pagan, occult and witch communities. Victims are left hurt and confused. Often their communities fail to support them, instead embracing the psychopath. While dealing with the aftermath in a healing way is a good idea, a far better approach would be to just end the rampant practice of tolerating them. If someone seems manipulative, they almost always are. Why is it that we fail to trust our judgment, or, worse yet, that of the victims?

In paganism, we embrace a certain amount of eccentricity. Psychopathy is not that. A lot of times, people get drawn into pagan, occult and witch communities because they are deeply wounded. Psychopaths go where the wounded are. They are slick manipulators that prey on the weak.

Why is it that in the pagan, witch and occult worlds there are so many psychopaths and predators to be found? From sexual violence to guru witches, it seems like I hear another tale of abuse every week. It’s easier to point the finger at the psychopaths, but we need to equally turn our attention to the rampant tolerance for their behavior. Standing by doing nothing, minimalizing abuse, and victim blaming are just as damaging, if not more so.

In Perfect Love & Perfect Trust?

Trust in a group as a safe space is not easily restored. How can I feel protected in a place that willingly let me be treated so horribly? My experience is far from unique. I’ve heard more stories of predatory behavior being tolerated than I can count. Leaders out of control, emotionally and verbally abusing their community members. Being a Guru Witch, screaming insults at people while demanding they give them money, time, or their bodies. That’s far from perfect love and perfect trust.

Then there’s the sexual abuse that never seems to end. Yet another serious allegation of sexually predatory behavior by a Pagan leader has come to light. This time it hits a bit too close for comfort since the accused is a sort of colleague of mine.  While I wish I could write that this is a rare example of predatory behavior, the opposite is true.

These toxic individuals often come dressed in the robes of leadership, as priests and teachers. It’s time to drag them – and our denial of their commonality – into the bright light of the Full Moon. As long as we put up with them, they remain faceless rendering them able to re-invent themselves so they can find fresh victims. Inaction is just as bad as inflicting trauma.

Because some forms of paganism embrace sexual behavior as part of ritual, these psychopaths take full advantage by manipulating others into sex magick and rituals. It is absolutely disgusting.

Psychopaths & Predators

Picture this: A group of witches sitting around the fire celebrating the beginning of autumn. Our conversation turns to the revelation by a respected witch regarding her horrible experiences at the hand’s of sexual predators in the pagan community. I completely believe her allegations. There’s absolutely no reason to lie, and so many more to remain silent. I don’t have any experience with most of the people on her list, except for one. She called him by name when he commented on her post. While this sounds outlandish, it’s actually quite typical of sexual predators, many of whom see themselves not guilty of anything. Psychopaths believe there is nothing wrong with their behavior. They are brilliant gaslighters who convince us that we are to blame, not them.

The thing with this individual that truly disturbs me –  in addition to these allegations –  is the way that he has passed himself off as a legitimate intellectual. He’s a wannabe one at best. Inflated claims and publications in sort-of-academic journals all used to create the illusion that he is an acclaimed academic. When I put the allegations + his long standing pattern of self aggrandizement together, it equals a revealing profile that is often found in sexual predators. He’s a psychopath. The most upsetting thing of all is that he is hardly unique.

Know the Signs & Get Out

Honestly, if you want to know what a psychopath looks and acts like, just watch Donald Trump in action. He’s a classic case study in psychopathy. Here are some of their traits and ways you may feel:

  • Psychopaths are excellent liars. What they are even better at is convincing us that they didn’t say or do what we know they did. This is gaslighting.
  • Psychopaths, especially the narcissistic ones, are ALWAYS looking for help. They need your time, money, knowledge or body.
  • Their abuse includes rages, silent treatment, trivializing, verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Problem is they are so good at the manipulation, we often don’t even know we’re being abused until it’s too late.
  • Being with the person is very intense. Psychopaths are very charming. They offer us whatever we need to hear in order to get their way.
  • After you’ve left them, you feel stressed, depressed and anxious.
  • You start acting out of character because of them, lying to others, doing things you don’t believe in.
  • They question your sanity, judgment and health when you try to hold them accountable.
  • You begin to think that you’re the crazy one.
  • Other people in your group are charmed by them. They don’t see them for the psychopath that they are.

If this list resonates with you, then I urge you to get away from the psychopath long enough for you to clear your head. You’ll probably have to leave the group if that’s how you met them. Change your phone number, social media accounts. Do whatever it takes. Never question your judgment.

If you’ve got a psychopath in your group, know that they won’t stop until everyone is traumatized. It’s what they do. They are impossible to change because they fundamentally don’t believe that there is anything wrong with them. Don’t make excuses and blame the victims. Be strong.  If the psychopath is the leader of the group, offer support to their victims and get out.

The only way to deal with a psychopath is to get all the way away from them. 

Read Thirteen Types of Toxic Witches to learn more.

More about traits of psychopaths can be found here.

Connect with Keeping Her Keys on Facebook. Join The Witches’ Realm for support and resources on recognizing and recovering from a psychopath.

About Cyndi
Cyndi Brannen is a witch and spiritual teacher, a trained energetic healer, psychic and herbalist. Merging together her training in shamanism, Tarot, past life work, meditation and psychology, she teaches and writes about better living through witchcraft. Keeping Her Keys: An Introduction to Hekate’s Modern Witchcraft explores Hekate from her ancient origins to modern understanding through magic and personal development is available now for pre-order from Moon Books. True Magic: Unleashing Your Inner Witch uses the magic of the elements and the three realms to activate your true witch powers and will be available later in 2019 from Moon as well. Connect with her on Facebook or at to learn more about her teaching and writing. Cyndi lives in rural coastal Nova Scotia with her two sons where she can often be found wandering the cliffs or wild foraging plants. She lives what she teaches: fierce love, emotional courage and true magic. You can read more about the author here.
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  • Melissa Marie Nelson

    Oh yes, I know this to be true all to well. My husbands father is one of them and when we tried to warn others, we were not supported. His own son, now ex wife, and daughter in law were made to look crazy and abusive by this man to his ‘followers’ because his game was so good. Most people told us to keep it to ourselves and others had to taste it for themselves. Predators have been using spirituality and religion as a cover for centuries and that’s why knowing the signs and effects of this trauma is imperative in not going through it. Awareness is key. Great post

  • kenofken

    I’ve found a very solid solution to this: Accept absolutely no one as a leader. They can’t abuse power people don’t give them.

  • Rowan

    Thank you for your article! It is a sad thing when a charismatic psychopath enters a circle. Your article was spot on and I wish I had read it years and years ago! It would have saved me from divorce, disillusionment, and debt!!! I look forward to and enjoy your articles!

  • Bendis Fierce-Huntress

    Thank you Cyndi – for writing and posting this. Everything you say is so true. I have shared where ever I can!

  • Monica T

    Thank you for writing and sharing this. I was in a relationship with a psychopath for many years. After leaving him, the first circle I attended had a leader to similar and I never went back. The second circle I attended had one as well as the third. So I am a solitary practitioner and will remain one. Maybe one day in will find another to join or maybe I will be brave and starty own.

  • Chelle Thomas

    Sadly, I know the traits well.. ty for writing and sharing this.

  • My group, The Witches’ Realm is a virtual coven that is safe and supportive. Also educational and tons of fun. Why don’t you apply to join?

  • Thanks!!

  • I was thinking about your comment for quite a while. I find this confusing. Leaders are part of life, from teachers to bosses. Assuming that you aren’t just another troll, can you tell me how you go about not seeing anyone as a leader?

  • kenofken

    I hope not to be a troll :). If people have skills and talents greater than mine, as many do, I’m fine acknowledging that. But especially within my Pagan path, I will never put myself in a position where they have any power over me or any sort of “guru” status. Celebrity and titles like HP mean sh*#t to me. Manipulators and psychopaths won’t find worthwhile hunting if we accord them no power. I can’t be abused by a religious leader if I acknowledge none.

  • Maria Noah

    Proud of you, Cindy. More than you know. You’re not alone.

  • Maria Noah

    Right Relation between Equals with Diverse Skills or NOTHING.

  • But if you don’t acknowledge that someone is a leader…how does this even work?

  • kenofken

    It works, for me, precisely because because I don’t accept leaders. Religion in the West at least is an entirely voluntary. Psychopaths or other types of abusive religious leaders can only function in this environment if they first get people to believe in their superiority. Manipulation can’t even begin until you get potential victims to believe that there is some wisdom or knowledge which they can attain only through you. If you’re a prospective cult leader or abuser, once you get someone to swallow that hook, probably two-thirds of your work is done already. The rest is just charisma and applied psychology. Once someone buys into that hierarchy, you can disable a person’s boundaries and even their ability to reason and sense of self. It’s how Catholic priests carried on like Caligula with thousands of boys right under the noses of their parents and communities. It’s how people can be induced to commit mass suicide or strap a bomb to themselves for a cause.

    If on the other hand, you refuse to buy in and see the manipulator as just a man behind a curtain and not the mighty Oz, that manipulation is going nowhere. I think what I’m trying to say is not really all that radical in today’s Pagan circles. No one can exercise power over you unless you first grant them that power. It’s why the vast majority of us are solitaries and many of us by choice. This isn’t the only way to work the problem of course. You can try to watch for warning signs and try to build better group dynamics and whatever, but to me, it’s simply not worth it. Nobody I’ve ever come across in the Pagan world has anything I need that badly. My only leaders in religion are the gods themselves.

  • LadyCrow

    Oh, don’t forget financial abuse if they can possibly manage it. I was married to one and his bad financial management drove us bankrupt — a process during which he told me that we were required to spend down my entire inheritance from my mother, who had died the previous year. It turns out the type of bankruptcy he decided (because of course he was making that decision, too) we would file absolutely does not require this. Hierarchical groups, of course, will try to separate one from one’s money by different means than the psychopath one married… but it bears keeping in mind.

  • Oh the financial abuse…I should have included that for sure. I did touch on it in my article on 13 Types of Toxic Witches. So sorry you had this miserable experience.

  • Thazoo Mob

    Thankyou for this article it is hard for victims to come forward and we need to support each other as a community