Little White Lies: Christian Books on Modern Witchcraft

Little White Lies: Christian Books on Modern Witchcraft May 12, 2015

Several years ago I had a co-worker who was absolutely convinced that “Satanic Witches” were sacrificing hundreds of babies every Halloween. I tried very hard to assure her that this was absolutely not true (“where are all the bodies?” “Why isn’t this ever on the news?” etc. etc.) but she remained steadfast in her mistaken belief. Perhaps the saddest part of her belief lies in how aggressively many Christian Churches and Ministries* try to reinforce such erroneous ideas. I have to assume there’s a good market for bullshit Witch stories because there’s an entire industry attached to it.

That's not us, that's them!  Photo from Wikipedia
That’s not us, that’s them! Photo from Wikipedia

In my younger days I used to try and keep up on the “anti-occult” literature released by misguided and uninformed (and as we shall see, some folks who are just clearly lying) Christians, but haven’t paid much attention to it in recent years. However, the other day I stumbled onto an interview with the delusional Bill Schnoebelen, author of the “true” story Wicca: Satan’s Little White Lie. Unlike some fear-mongers Schnoebelen was actually involved in Modern Paganism, but somewhere it all went wrong and he became born-again**; he now spreads falsehoods about the Craft in interviews, books, and public appearances. (Our own Dana Corby actually met Bill during a radio segment. Her article about that meeting is great, read it!)

11204906_10153241792353232_5356438925967062002_nWhat makes a person like Schnoebelen so frightening is that he speaks Witchcraft. As someone who was a part of our tribe back in the 70’s he knows our language and comes across in a somewhat convincing manner. Of course anyone who actually practices The Craft (or knows someone who does) is not ever going to bite into his tripe-sandwich, but for folks who don’t know any better, well, dude has a market. I don’t hate myself enough to completely keep up with it all, but I have read his book Wicca: Satan’s Little White Lie and several other books in the genre, and thought it might be fun (and frightening!) to share how the other side thinks of us.

The driving narrative behind Schnoebelen’s “Wicca” book is that Wicca was designed as a secret gateway into worshipping the Christian devil. Never mind that there’s no hint of this, well anywhere (other than with Schnoebelen and his ilk). Certainly there was some cross-pollination between Paganism and LaVey-inspired Satanism back in the 60′s and early 70′s, but it was minor (and generally the result of press misinformation), and the ideas of people like LaVey never worked their way into initiatory Witchcraft or Pagan groups like The Church of All Worlds. Despite Bill’s opinion to the contrary, Third Grade Degree really is the endgame in most forms of initiatory Craft:

“Although I thought as a Third Grade Witch High Priest, I was on the the inside of the artichoke, I now discovered that I was only in the middle of layer. Wiccans like myself, who were hungry for more wisdom, needed to learn about Lucifer. Luciferians who needed more were eventually drawn into the Anton LaVey level of satanism, still relatively innocuous. Then the Church of Satan members who were really ‘evolved’ would actually be led into hard-core satanism.

This is the stage I was now at, and I could only look back and smile at how naive I was. I thought that witchcraft was just gathering herbs and dancing naked in the forest, but now I realized it was the threshold of the dark passionate thrills of the kingdom of Satan, or the ‘Kingdom,’ as we called it.

The man who was my immediate superior was a strange, but powerful satanist from Chicago with all sorts of connections in politics and industry. I was amazed at the people of power I would meet at the sabbats.

I figured I had it made an my ship was finally coming in. I signed a pact in my own blood with Satan. He received complete control of my body and soul. In return, I got seven years of whatever I desired: money, sex, drugs or power! It could all be mine.” pages 47-48 of the awful book I’m writing about in this article

This passage is typical of paranoid-Christian ramblings. Note the unnamed “people of power” from “politics and industry” and the anonymous “immediate supervisor.” If one was really determined to expose the world to a mass Satanic conspiracy with Wicca as its origin point, don’t you think you’d want to name some names? There would also have to be a paper trail, which is of course absent from Schnoebelen’s books and later ramblings.

There’s also a time factor here that has me scratching my head. From witchling to Third Degree High Priest to LaVey-style Satanist to member of the “Kingdom” . . . that’s a pretty long drawn out process. If you were a Satanic conspiracy intent on spreading your nefarious gospel wouldn’t you find a faster way to do it? Seems quite convoluted to me, but I’m not delusional, so perhaps the reasoning behind all of this is lost on me.

The anti-witchcraft crowd has a huge fetish for blood. Schnoebelen is no exception to this rule and Little White Lie has a chapter dedicated to the topic entitled Power in the Blood. While not explicitly stating that Witches engage in human (or animal) sacrifice he implies as much throughout his “expose:”

“To a Witch, to consume blood is to consume life. To shed blood is to release an incredible amount of ‘life energy.’ To shed enough blood to kill a person is to release incalculable amounts of magical power, enough perhaps to even keep a ‘god’ alive . . . If your god is dependent upon frequent blood sacrifices to keep going, then this sort of theology explains the reasoning behind modern Wiccan theology. This magic world view of their gods is the justification for for most blood rituals, including cannabalism and vampirism.” Lying dude, page 173.

I’ve never understood why worldwide Satanic conspiracies try so hard to alienate members. Cannabalism? Vampirism? Something tells me a lot of those “people of power” aren’t going to be interested in such things. If I were building a cult to honor the Christian Devil and wanted as many people as possible to join I’d probably skip on the blood sacrifice in sensitive areas:

“Though the rites now began to include blood sacrifice (including my own) I was not deterred. When I first became a witch, my perineum was cut and my blood was shed. I knew this was a pallid echo of the ancient sacrifice of castration expected of the priests of the Great Mother in Greece and I was honored to receive it.” Schnoebelen page 45. (writing the title of his book makes me ill)

Sacrifice is a constant refrain in Witchcraft-As-Satanic-Conspiracy literature, as is the continual mixing of Paganism and Satanism. In the book Halloween and Satanism authors Phil Phillips and Joan Rabie concoct a shit sandwich of fictions attempting to link the Craft with Satanic sacrifice in their chapter on “Modern-Day Witchcraft” .

“Satanists infest every level of society from poor to rich, police, business men and women, even government officials. Most attend local Christian churches and are considered ‘good citizens’ because they are involved in local civic activities . . . . They use code names at the meetings and are rigidly disciplined by Satan and his demons. ‘They practice human sacrifices several times a year and animal sacrifices on a monthly basis. The human sacrifices are often babies-born out of wedlock to various cult members, cared for by the doctors and nurses within the cult so that the mother is never seen in the hospital-the baby’s birth is never registered, neither is it’s (sic) death. Other sacrifices are kidnapped victims, or a cult member who is being disciplined or who volunteers. Each coven is led by a high priest or priestess. These people get to their position by obtaining favor with Satan by various means and by obtaining greater and greater powers of witchcraft . . . .'” From Halloween and Satanism by Phil Phillips and Joan Hake Robie pages 136-137

urlWhat’s especially disturbing about the passage quoted above is that it is literally followed by a reference to Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon (along with an hysterical exclamation that Adler is “HERSELF A WITCH”). Instead of following the paper-trail left by Adler (who as we know was a respected journalist for National Public Radio) authors Rabie and Phillips instead turned to the delusional rantings of Dr. Rebecca Brown author of He Came to Set the Captives Free.

Brown’s He Came to Set the Captives Free is a complete fiction that “details” fifteen years spent inside a Satanic organization known as “The Brotherhood.” It’s a work that has been dismissed by most mainstream Christians, but has been used as a factual source in several Chick Tracts (those funny little comic books about Jesus) and is still in print today. Despite being outed as a fraud by mainstream Christians, Brown continues to profit from her lies and still runs a ministry. Sadly, her Facebook page has more than 12,000 likes, while Raise the Horns is stuck on about 1000. Easily duped authors (or perhaps willful liars?) such as Phillips and Rabie continue to quote from Brown’s fictional tale of the Brotherhood. Brown’s current website describes the protagonist of Captives as being formerly “one of the top witches in the U.S.,” linking Brown’s imaginary “Brotherhood” to Modern Witchcraft.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Despite their presence in many Christian bookstores and even a few Barnes and Nobles, it’s easy to dismiss authors such as Schnoebelen, Brown, and Rabie as Christian-bookstore “shock jocks,” harder to quantify are works such as Wicca’s Charm: Understanding the Spiritual Hunger Behind the Rise of Modern Witchcraft and Pagan Spirituality. Unlike the other books mentioned in this article Charm is rather reserved in its histrionics and outwardly appears so sympathetic to Modern Witchcraft that I found it at my local Witch-shop when it was first released. Author Catherine Edwards Sanders mostly paints a sympathetic portrait of Wicca, though in a roundabout way she just can’t let go of Witch-led-human-sacrifice. Even authors who have actually spoken to real-life Witches like to throw a little confusion and nonsense into their work.

thSanders writes that “According to Paganism, human beings have the same value as rocks, trees, or animals,” and uses such lines to to link Modern Pagans to abhorrent practices such as widow burning in India. The back cover blurb presents Sanders as an independent journalist and states that her book is a “compassionate and vivid narrative about Wicca intended to challenge Wiccans and Christians alike.” What’s frightening about books such as Wicca’s Charm as that they appear so rational on the outside, but are mostly just a repackaging of anti-Wiccan ideas. Instead of finding the “live and let live” ethos that would make for better Christian/Pagan relations, authors like Sanders are only looking to convert others to their way of thinking.

It’s important to remember that the books mentioned in this article are not truly representative of how most Christians perceive Modern Pagans and Witches. For the most part writers like Schnoebelen operate on the margins, but their work does occasionally creep into mainstream thinking. Sure, stories of “greater and greater powers of witchcraft” are kind of funny but the Satanic Panics of the 80’s and 90’s are recent history. It’s best to be vigilant.

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*It’s important to point out that most Christian Churches do not promote the books at the heart of this article.

*People leaving Paganism doesn’t bother me, people who leave Paganism and then lie about their experiences within it does bother me. Schnoebelen is someone who knowingly lies about his experiences within Modern Wicca or suffers from pretty serious delusions.

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