AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOE WILSON 1942 - 1973
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Joe sent this submission to Rhuddlwm Gawr in February 1999.
Dear Rhuddlwm, although the attached autobiography may not be what you asked for, once I started writing about my life and occult experiences I just couldn't stop. I appreciate your opinion that I was a founding leader in the Neo Pagan movement back in the 60s and 70s. There will definitely be a difference of opinion regarding that statement. Here is what I feel you should have regarding my life and experiences. Use what you wish and dump the rest. I will send the second part as soon as I have completed it.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOSEPH B. WILSON 1942 - 1973
In order to find work, my parents moved from Tioga County, Pennsylvania to Clinton County, Michigan in the summer of 1942. I was raised just inside the city limits of St. Johns, Michigan, a small town just 18-miles north of the state capital. In those days my neighbors were mostly small farmers who were selling their land in lot sized parcels.
Dad bought three or four lots from his step-father-in-law's father, parked a trailer which was not much larger than a camper on it, and over the years built a large cement block house while working full time at the local Sealed Power Piston Ring factory. Until I became a teenager the area behind our back yard was about 5-acres of overgrown woodland in which I used to enjoy wandering.
As far as I knew there were no other children in this neighborhood until I was about five years old. Until I started kindergarten, the September before my fifth birthday, my major social interaction with other children was with my cousins from Flint, about 50 miles away. We'd see each other about once a month, either they would come to visit, or my folks would go there. My oldest cousin was about a year younger than me.
My folks did not go to church so I didn't have any spiritual training at home. My only exposure as a child came during our annual vacations when we would go to my parents old homestead in Sabinsville (population 225), Pennsylvania. There we would attend church meetings with my Grandmother Wilson and my father's brother and sisters.
Their church is different from any other I have seen. First, it has no name. The church has no official organizational status with the government so marriages are performed by a Justice of the Peace rather than by one of the ministers. It owns and rents no property, and has no bank accounts of any kind. The people meet in worshipers homes for services rather than in a set aside building. Their preachers, whom they call Workers, take a kind of a vow of poverty, since they only own their clothing and a few small personal items.
They remain unmarried and travel about the country in pairs -- an older and younger man or an older and younger woman -- teaching in the various communities where the church is established. They have no seminary so the older Worker teaches the younger one. They claim their teachings are strictly Biblical (don't they all!) and they don't differentiate between the Old and New Testaments. They take no collection or donations during the services although the Workers are allowed to accept gifts of cash from the individual members in order to obtain food and travel. They are an extremely strict group. No drinking, smoking, movies, television, radio, fairs, circuses, card playing, jewelry, etc. The women never cut, color, or curl their hair (they usually wear it in long braids wrapped in a kind of a bun on their head) and wear plain clothing. The men are all clean shaven and have a haircut similar to military style haircuts. They are pacifists, although they do allow their men to serve in the military if they are drafted and it is in a non-combatant capacity. In spite of their apparent lack of formal organization during the summer months they manage to have large "conventions" (tent meeting, revivals) in the United States and Canada. Sometimes these are attended by a couple of thousand people or more.
I went through that kind of detail because this group of people had a lasting spiritual effect on me and colored the way I thought a spiritual organization should be run.
Two months before my 8th birthday my brother, Richard, was born. Two years later he was diagnosed as having polio. He was one of the lucky ones who recovered without being physically paralyzed, though I think that the disease (or the pampering he continued to receive after recovery) had a negative effect on his personality. He's presently in jail (again) serving a long sentence for some violent act.
My sister was born four months after I turned 11. I can't remember exactly when, but at around the are of puberty I was pretty depressed for no reason that I can think of. I could see no point in life and on three separate occasions tried to commit suicide. First I got into my fathers college chemistry set and swallowed the contents of a test tube sized bottle labeled "poison". I threw up a
lot that night, and was kept out of school the next day, but that's all that happened. A week or so later I went to out back yard, put a ladder up against the oak tree where our swing was tied, climbed up and tied one of the ropes around my neck, then jumped. I wasn't high enough and landed on my feet. A week or so after that I loaded my fathers old Ivor Johnson .22 pistol, put the barrel to my temple, and pulled the trigger. The gun misfired. I unloaded the gun and put it back. At that point I decided that there must be some purpose to my life, I just didn't know what it was. It obviously wasn't my time to die.
From the time I was about 9 until I was about 14 I spent one or two months of my school summer vacation time in Sabinsville. It was there I had a breakthrough and actually learned to read well (after all I couldn't play in the creek or on the farms all of the time, and television and radio was not only out of the question but totally unavailable!) By the time I was 10 or 11 I had read all of Edgar Rice Burrows Tarzan series.
Back home in St. Johns I became a regular in the library. The librarian introduced me to science fiction and fantasy and I devoured everything I could get my hands on. By the time I was 12 I had discovered Burrows' Moon and Martian series, Ambrose Bierce, and H.P. Lovecraft. I suppose they were an introduction to the dark side of mysticism. Regardless this was where I first learned about and became fascinated by the concept of astral projection, and the possibility of the existence of spiritual forces, good or bad, other than the cold, strict God my puritan relatives loved to fear. In addition to those I read Roman and Greek mythology -- which again had an influence on me.
Although I was good at reading I was a poor student in school. In junior high and high school I seldom got passable grades. I used to skip school a lot, especially in junior high. I'd go to the library after school hours and check out several books. In the morning instead of going to school I'd go to an old abandoned cider mill, climb to my favorite hiding spot, and lay there reading the books all day. I'd often finish three or four, return them to the library that evening, and check out more. In spite of my poor grades I was getting an education. In fact when I was in the 8th grade we had to take some kind of educational achievement/placement test. My score indicated that I already had two years of college.
At 12 or 13 I had a bad attack of puppy love for a neighbor girl who did not return my passion and affection. I figured it would make sense to ask Venus for help, rather than Jesus -- since Jesus didn't get involved with women and Venus was the Goddess of Love. I made up some kind of a ritual/ceremony and prayed to her with all my might. It didn't do any good! I figured I must have done something wrong, or left something out.
After that I started to read anything I could find about "magic". My small town library didn't have very much, but I looked up encyclopedia articles and references in other books and made notes in a kind of a journal/diary, inspired by Bram Stoker's Dracula. I also put my hopes and fears, sketches of fiction and poetry I was trying to write, and just plain nonsense in that journal. I kept it hidden.
When I was about 14 my mother found my diary, read it, was horrified, and burned it. I got another notebook and wrote on the cover, "These are my private thoughts, please do not read." On the first page I wrote "Nosy, aren't you?" I left the rest of the notebook blank and hid it. A couple of days later I took out the notebook and there, written under my note on the first page were the words, "You think you're smart, don't you?" I never forgave my mother for her invasion of my privacy, and, although I loved her, I never trusted her again. She'd shown me twice in a week that she had no respect for me.
Mom and Dad both worked. My father progressed from a machine operator on the floor, to a quality control specialist, to a process engineer with the same company. His work hours were from noon to 9 PM. Mother got a job as a machine operator with Federal Mougal, another factory within walking distance of our home. She worked second shift, 3:30 PM to Midnight. During the week they used to hire high school girls as live-in maid/baby-sitters to take care of us and the house. The girls came in Monday after school and went home Friday evening. They were paid something like $10 per week plus room and board. (Boy was that a long time ago!)
I don't know how many girls they hired over the years. I don't remember much about most of them. I was rather a rebel during my early teens. Was on probation for vandalism twice
by the time I was 14. At least while I was on probation I attended classes regularly! On a Friday morning in the spring of my 15th year another boy and I bought several large bottles of pure vanilla extract. We went to the soda fountain at the drug store, ordered cokes, poured the extract into them and drank it. Pure vanilla extract has an alcohol content nearly as high as 80 proof whiskey. We got a bit tipsy and decided we wanted to take the day off school, but couldn't afford to get caught skipping classes again. So we figured that if we would telephone the office and anonymously tell them there was a bomb planted in the high school they would have to let everyone out while they searched for it. Well, it didn't quite work that way.
We got caught, and spent the next three days in the county jail. We weren't allowed to see anyone, not each other and not the other prisoners. (I did see a trustee who was cleaning the hallway -- I'm grateful to him because he gave me a couple of cigarettes and some matches.) My parents refused to come and talk to me. At my arraignment I was told that since I was 15 when I committed the offense I would be tried as a juvenile. If I had been 16 I would have been tried as an adult. I pled guilty and was given a years strict probation (I don't remember everything, but, I was not allowed out of the house after dark except to attend a school or church function, had to report to my probation officer every Monday Morning. When the judge asked me what my religion was I told him I was an atheist. Then he told me that although he could not force me to go to church he could make a minister an additional probation officer and make me report to him immediately after Sunday morning services. In addition I was expelled from High School and had to live with an Aunt and Uncle in Flint so I could finish that year there. I did that and somehow managed to return to high school in St. Johns that fall.
The judge appointed the minister of the First Methodist Church as my additional probation officer. That summer I attended (or dozed through) his services and saw him immediately afterwards. None of my family attended with me.
I needed to get out more, so as I started my junior year of high school I tried out for the Junior Play figuring that would get me out of the house at least for rehearsals. I got a part, and enjoyed it. Wayne Hunt, another member of the cast invited me to attend church services with him. When I explained why I couldn't he went with me to my probation officer and got permission for me to go to his church. It was one of those Hellfire and Damnation Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches. The preacher, Henry Parish, D.D. was an animated speaker, fun to watch and listen to. In many ways the teachings were similar to those of my Grandmother's church in Sabinsville. I thought this was much better than what the judge told me I had to do! Especially since (after the
daily rehearsals for the play) if I attended Morning and Evening services on Sunday, Visitation on Monday, Prayer Meeting on Wednesday, and Choir Practice on Thursday it was almost as though I were not on probation at all. I didn't attend all of those things, but knowing I could made me feel free.
I became deeply involved with that church, began taking bible correspondence courses, became a Junior Boy's Sunday School teacher, a junior deacon, and led the Youth For Christ group on Sunday evenings, and sometimes preached at the Rescue Mission in Lansing on Saturday nights. I continued with the church even after my probation period was over.
So many things happened between the time I started attending services there and the time I left home, it's hard to put them all together. Most of them are not of great spiritual importance, but did have an influence on my attitude towards life. When I was still 15 I met Nancy Ketchum in church, she became my first sexual partner, we broke up a little after my 16th birthday. I couldn't equate the church's teaching that sex was wrong with my feelings, so that created a little conflict. My parents hired a girl named Carol to cook, clean, and look after my brother and sister. Carol was also sexually active and we had a fun physical, not emotional on either part, relationship. Later she thought she was pregnant by her boyfriend (also named Joe) and made the mistake of thinking she could talk to my mother about it and get some advice. Mother's response was to fire her. So from the time I was 16-1/4 until I left home I had the tasks of cooking, cleaning, and
rearing my brother and sister. I don't think I did too good a job of that.
When I was 17 I started dating Daisy. She is Wayne's younger sister Shortly after my 18th birthday I was ordained as a lay minister and was being groomed to attend a seminary in Texas. I was supposed to start seminary in September of 1961. That was not to be. Around then I began reading Sinclair Lewis Elmer Gantry, though not a heavy philosophical work, got me to thinking and analyzing that which I had been accepting unquestionably. I discussed some of the philosophical ideas gleaned from it with some of my friends, and then with Dr. Parrish. He said I should be reading the bible, not trash like that. To forget it and just accept his teachings on faith. No help. I thought about becoming a Worker in my Grandmother's church and got some mimeographed information about their doctrines, the way one becomes a Worker, and what is expected. I read it through a couple of times, then went to talk to Dr. Parrish about it. His response? "Great, let's see how we can tear this crap apart!" Interesting, two similar religious philosophies, both of which insisted the adherents to the other one were wrong and going to hell! And both of whom justified their personal racial bigotry on biblical sources. I figured they were both wrong, but didn't quite know what to do.
My last semester in High School I was 18 and Daisy was 16. She was an itty bitty gal, 5-foot tall and 95 pounds soaking wet. My father used to warn me, saying "It's easier to get a girl in bed with you than to get her out of it." I should have listened to him! We became sexually active. Daisy had a sex drive stronger than anyone, male or female, I've ever seen before or since! If you've ever seen a female cat in heat you'll have an idea of her needs. I guess my post pubescent prayer to Venus many years before was finally answered, and with someone else! Then, at my Senior Prom, I asked her to marry me, and she said yes. This eliminated the possibility that I become a Worker for Grandma's church).
Our birth control methods consisted of the occasional use of condoms when I could get them legally, and withdrawal when I could not. If Daisy even suspected that I had obtained condoms illegally she would refuse to allow me to use them, and still would insist on having sex. We usually didn't have condoms. As a horny stupid young man I didn't object. One night at the drive-in theater, while we were making love in the front seat, she decided in our fit of passion that she just had to feel me ejaculate inside of her.
As my orgasm approached she felt me start to pull away and grabbed me, pushing me against the steering wheel. I thought about being stronger (but not very hard) but by then it was too late, she felt what she wanted to feel.
A couple of months later she telephoned me and told me she was pregnant. We were married on her 17th birthday. There I was, an unemployed 18-year-old in a recession, with a pregnant wife. My Uncle Roy was an Air Force recruiter so In spite of my juvenile record, I managed to join the Air Force so I could provide for my new family. In September of 1961, instead of starting seminary in Dallas, Texas, I found myself at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas, going through Air Force Basic Training. My Uncle Roy got in trouble because he helped me lie about my juvenile record in order to enlist.
Daisy stayed behind and lived with my parents while went through basic training and went through an administrative process to keep from being discharged due to my fraudulent enlistment. On March 22nd, 1962 she gave an easy birth to our first child, Marian Sue. A day later I won my court case and was allowed to stay in the Air Force.
In April I was transferred to Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas for technical training. In May Daisy joined me with our new baby. We lived off base in a furnished one bedroom duplex apartment in a cheap housing area which had been erected as "temporary" family shelters during World War II. Our rent was $35 per month and included utilities.
After technical school I was assigned to McConnell Air Force Base, Wichita, Kansas. In the autumn of 1962 I auditioned for a part in the base little theater's production of Bell, Book, and Candle. I don't know if you remember the play or not. It's a comedy about a modern family of witches in New York City. I got the part of Nicky, the mischievous brother, (played by Jack Lemon in the movie). The person who played the lead male was Mac Armstrong, half Cherokee and half Scots/Irish, who was a student at the University of Wichita. Mac was about eight years older than me.
During the first few rehearsals I pretended to knowledge that I didn't have. I hinted that I knew the play was just for fun because it didn't have any real information about witches or witchcraft, and that I knew some secrets. Mac just grinned at me and said we'd have to talk about it some day.
Mac came over to our apartment a couple of weeks later and we talked all night. It didn't take him long to discover that I didn't really know anything about what he called the Old Religion. He was a rather romantic character, dashing, short, not quite handsome, who told some interesting and believable stories of his adventures as a solder of fortune in South America. I idealized him and believed everything he said. Looking back on that time I'd be surprised if more than half of his stories were not stretchers, as Mark Twain would have said. Still, enough of his stories had sufficient element of truth in them, so that I believed him. He became my role model.
Over the next few years Mac taught me how to shoot a pistol, how to defend myself with gun and knife, surveillance methods, survival techniques, and similar skills that a sensible and sane person does not need. Within a couple of months after I'd met him he talked me into buying a pistol and carrying it with me at all times. He claimed that certain South American factions were after him and that his friends were not safe.
Turns out a bullet hole did appear in my car windshield while I was driving once, but I never returned fire. I was taught not to shoot at something I can't see clearly enough to hit. Anyway, those were foolish, romantic and exciting years.
I told Mac I wanted power. He told me that if I wanted power I should go and make a lot of money because people with a lot of money have a lot of power, and that was a lot easier than gaining magical powers. He also said if I wanted something important I'd have to choose another path than the search for power.
Then he recommended some books. The three I remember best are The White Goddess by Robert Graves, The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain by Lewis Spence, and The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazier. From the first I learned something about poetry, the feminine aspect of divinity from various cultures, and the relationship between nature and ideas. And from the second I learned something about Irish, Scots, and Welsh mysticism and mythology and it's relationship between poetry and nature.
That last gives an overview of ancient religious/spiritual customs worldwide. No matter how much theory I learned from those or any other books it was all worthless in the end. Mac taught me a lot -- but it wasn't so much what he taught as how he taught that has had lasting importance for me.
Without any conscious effort my Fundamentalist Christian focus simply dropped away from me. I did not consciously renounce it or decide that I was no longer Christian -- it just left. This shocked Daisy, since she remained devoted to her religious upbringing, and created a barrier between us that was never fixed. Regardless she got pregnant again that same autumn.
It was also during this period that she confessed that her sex drive was too strong for her to handle, and told me that she couldn't keep herself from having sex with my father while I was going through basic training at Lackland Air Force Base. I did not get angry or jealous, or experience any of the other emotions that I've heard people tell about. Instead I told her I understood her needs and if she needed more than I could give her she could do whatever she wanted -- I'd love her anyway. She told me that she was only interested in married men because they were less likely to talk about her and if they wanted sex with someone other than their wives, the wives probably deserved it. She thought it was only honest to tell me each time she had such an encounter. With her attitude the way it was I felt that I was also released from my vow of fidelity, although I did not search out anyone to do anything with.
From time to time Mac would take me to north-eastern Oklahoma where his family owned a horse ranch. In the back woods of their property there were some small hills and a cave in the side of one of them.
We would go out there, sit around a camp fire, and talk. We never did any fancy or special ceremonies. No invoking quarters, no pipe ceremonies, no sweat lodges, nothing like that. From time to time he'd hand me something -- a feather, an animal pelt, a rock, a stick, a plant, -- and ask me what it said to me. Most of the time I didn't have any idea of what he was talking about. He'd tell me to not pay any attention to what things should mean and just tell him what I felt and saw in my minds eye. Sometimes I could feel and see something, sometimes not. He'd tell me to listen to the wind in the trees and see if I could figure out what it was telling me. And to watch the animals, and see what I could learn from them. He did the same with the sounds of the woods. He never would tell me if my interpretations were right or wrong. He told me I needed to discover that for myself.
He'd tell me things about the Earth being our Mother and Grandmother, since we got our bodies from Her and our food and clothing came from Her, and the Sun being our Father and Grandfather since we got our energy from it and without it the Earth Mother could not bring forth any of the things which are necessary for life.
He never said that what we were doing had anything to do with ancient European or Native American Spirituality as such. He implied that the things he was teaching me were handed down in his family, and I assumed it was from the Irish/Scottish side. Looking back it was probably a little of both. Anyway he said that if this were the Middle Ages we would be accused of witchcraft for doing these things. He said that although outsiders might call us witches we should avoid the term since it was derogatory -- like a white person calling a black person "nigger". I took him literally.
My first son, Chad Joseph, was born July 30, 1963. At the beginning of September in 1963 Mac, his wife, Marylyn, Barbara McGrew, and fellow named Phil White took me to the Cave. I guess this was a kind of initiation. Now I know it was very similar to the Vision Quest done by some Native American tribes. There they took my clothing and told me to spend my time praying and listening to the answers until they came back for me. They left me without food or water for four days. I kept warm at night by making a heap shelter of dry leaves and fallen branches (learned from watching squirrels), and got enough water from the dew on the plants in the morning to survive. It really taught me to be grateful for the gifts Mother Earth gives!
That was the way Mac taught. I was still young and immature, and wanted magical powers, so I read everything I could find about the occult, magic and witchcraft, including Charles Godfrey Leland's books about Gypsy practices and such. I guess that stuff was interesting from an anthropological point of view, but it certainly didn't give me the supernatural powers I thought I was looking for.
It was about this time I discovered Fate magazine, which I read thoroughly monthly, including the classified advertisements. Towards the end of 1963 I answered a classified for Pentagram, a Witchcraft newsletter published by the Witchcraft Research Association of London, England. When I got it I found it full of information about something called "Wicca" (a term then used by the followers of Gerald Gardner in England) "the Goddess" , Nature Religion, and the like. I showed it to Mac and he said something to the effect of "Oh no, not another 'call to the covens.'" He didn't think highly of them or that movement, and cited all sorts of examples of political in-fighting in similar groups. He advised me to ignore them -- instead I ignored his advice.
Inspired by Pentagram, I started a four-page spirit duplicated newsletter in early 1964, which I named The Waxing Moon. I was searching for other people who were practicing spirituality similar to that which Mac practiced. Sometimes I subtitled it A Journal of the Old Religion and sometimes I called it A Witchcraft Newsletter. Either way the first few issues were poorly written, poorly duplicated, and poorly distributed. I placed it in a bookstore near the University of Wichita (Now Wichita State University), and put an advertisement for it in the classifieds of Fate magazine. I offered it for free and just asked those who wrote for it to send me a donation to help cover my costs if they could. Some did, some didn't. I never got enough money in donations to reimburse me for my advertising, printing, and mailing costs. I didn't mind, it was a labor of love. I got about 50 requests for each time I placed the classified advertisement in Fate.
It was at about this time that Ray and Rosemary Buckland, immigrants to New York from England, discovered that there were no Wiccan groups in the United States.
According to published reports they returned to the British Isles, got initiated (by the Wilson's on the Isle of Man) through the three degrees of Gardnerian Wicca in as many weeks, and returned to New York where they promptly went about forming covens and giving interviews to the newspapers, radio, and television stations.
Most of the people who wrote in response to my advertisement were searching for a way to get involved in this alternate form of spirituality. Some were just curious. I published whatever information I could, and wrote personal letters to everyone who wrote to me. I'd often explain that I couldn't do much for them, but I could sometimes put them in touch with other people in their geographical area so they could form their own study groups. None of my American correspondents claimed any first hand knowledge of the Old Religion, though some did say they were familiar with the movement in England.
In 1964 I listed an advertisement for Pentagram in TWM, and placed an advertisement for The Waxing Moon in that publication.
I received about 30 letters from people in England who had read my advertisement. I recognized one of them, Robert Cochrane, as a regular contributor to Pentagram. His writings were mystical, and at odds with what he said was the simplistic approach the Gardnerian Wicca writers seemed to have. He claimed to be a member of a family that had secretly kept these practices since before the persecutions of non-Christians in the dark ages. He called his group the Order of 1734. I seriously doubt his historical claims now, but then I believed him. We corresponded for about a year before he died by his own hand.
Cochrane, whose real name was Roy Bowers, agreed to teach me as much as he could by mail. During our correspondence I learned that his viewpoint was similar to Mac's -- in fact except for the fact that it was oriented to English soil, it blended and supplemented Mac's teachings quite well. Much of the way he taught was through mystical questions such as "What two words were not spoken from the Cauldron?", "How many steps in a ladder?", "How many beans make five?" and so forth. The answers to the questions were less important than the process of answering them, and he was relentless about emphasizing the importance of that work.
His mythos included a combination of mixed theological references, some from the Book of Genesis (Tubal Cain and Naamah), some from the Anglo Saxon history of the British Isles (Weyland Smith and Goda), and some whose origins I haven't been able to identify with any certainty (Lucet, Carenos, Node, Tettens). It included use of hammer and tongs and other implements more closely related to a blacksmiths trade, or shamanism, than to ceremonial magic. It was while studying with him that I finally dropped my quest for magical powers and concentrated on mystical experience and spiritual growth.
During 1964 and the first half of 1965 I made other contacts which significantly affected me during the next few years. Among those were Ruth Wynn-Owen, a Welsh actress, living in England, who practiced a form of the religion she called the Plant Bran, since her family claimed descent from the Welsh god Bran. I kind of adopted her as a substitute mother. Another was John Score, an English Gardnerian. John was inspired by my starting The Waxing Moon, and started a similar newsletter in England, which he called The Wiccan.
My most significant contacts in the United States were Bill and Helen Mohs then from Culver City, near Los Angeles; Ed Fitch, an Air Force captain; and John and Jay Hanson, of Chicago. All of these people became close friends with me, first by correspondence, and later through personal meetings and association.
Bill and Helen were developing their own religion due to an experience with an Ouija Board -- this was based upon their concepts of Aphrodite and Pan. They called it "witchcraft".
Ed Fitch (this is his pen name which he used to keep the Air Force from getting fussy about his religious orientation and practices) had been initiated into Wicca (I think) by Rosemary and Ray Buckland and was actively seeking others who were interested in the same sort of path.
John and Jay Hanson claimed to be members of a group whose practices were similar to the teachings I'd been getting from Mac and Roy Bowers.
In mid 1964 Daisy got pregnant again. During this pregnancy she became emotionally disturbed. She had been having sexual encounters with several men (including Mac), and probably felt guilty about it because of her religious upbringing and orientation. Somehow she changed this guilt into anger and projected the anger against both herself and me. Even though she felt free to have sex with anyone when she needed to do so, if she suspected that I even thought about having an encounter with another woman she would become violently jealous. I remember one night she had an erotic dream about me and someone else. She was in a rage at me for over a week because of that dream.
One day, quite far along in her pregnancy, she held a pistol to her abdomen and threatened to kill the baby and herself. Somehow I took the gun away from her without it's being fired. I had her involuntarily committed to a mental hospital where she was kept and treated for a month or two, then released. Daisy refused to cooperate with a therapist after her hospitalization. During her hospital stay Marlyn and Barbara helped me take care of Marian and Chad.
While Daisy was hospitalized Barbara gave me a formal initiation which included a sexual aspect, and instruction on the use of sex in mysticism and magic. This was the first time I experienced sex with anyone other than Daisy since we were married. Barbara was about 10 years older and much more experienced than I was. In addition to the mystical aspects of sex she taught me to stop fucking and start making love. I will always be grateful to her.
In 1965 the United States was getting more and more deeply involved in the Viet Nam war. Hundreds of troops were sent from McConnell AFB to Southeast Asia, first on 90 day temporary duty assignments, and later full scale deployments of one year remote tours. Since Daisy was pregnant again I was able to avoid being shipped over until after Bryan Devin, my second son, was born on April 2nd.Then I re-enlisted a year early in order to request and get a base of preference assignment. I requested, and got assigned to, Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Michigan. My reporting date was early January, 1966. I thought I'd be staying there for a few years. Hah!
Daisy got pregnant during our move from Wichita, Kansas to Oscoda, Michigan. Although I didn't realize it, that was a lucky thing.
Within four months of my arrival at Wurtsmith Air Force Base I got orders for a one year assignment in Da Nang, Viet Nam. Since Daisy was pregnant I was able to get the orders canceled. Monica Lynn was born August 17, 1966 and six weeks later I again received orders to be shipped to Southeast Asia -- this time to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon, Thailand. I figured I should either take my family and become one of the protesters in Canada, or accept that assignment. It was a struggle, but I finally decided to take the assignment and face whatever life had to offer.
I made arrangements for The Waxing Moon to be taken over by Bill and Helen Mohs while I was gone. We moved Daisy and the children to a small house in the country near St. Johns, where my father and mother could help her out with transportation and such, and on December 7th, 1966 I arrived at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base.
Ubon is located in north-east, Thailand, about 8 miles from the Cambodian and 5 miles from the Laotian borders. The language spoken there is a Laotian dialect, written the same as, but pronounced differently from the "pure" Thai language spoken in Bangkok. The physical boundary separating those countries from Thailand is a river which flows through the jungle. One side of the base was occupied by the Australian Air Force, the other side by the United States Air Force.
Colonel Robin Olds was the commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. The Vice Commander was Colonel Chappie James. Both men were later promoted to general due to their accomplishments in their assignment at Ubon. If I remember right Colonel James later became the first black four star general in the United States Air Force.
Together they were known as the team of "Blackman and Robin."
I was assigned to work as an Administrative Specialist (also known as clerk typist) in the Wing Commander's office. My duties were routine and boring. We worked 12 hours per day six days per week, and were authorized two 5-day (including two days of travel time) R&R (Rest and Recuperation) vacations during our 12 month tour.
I was an Airman First Class (three stripes, pay grade E-4). I arranged for the Air Force to send all of my pay except for $10.00 per month back to Daisy and the children.
On what I kept I was able to buy my cigarettes (11 cents per package), have my laundry done so I could have clean uniforms, and go off base to the local clubs for some local beer once or twice per week.
Just outside the main gate, known as Checkpoint Charley, several Samlo (a three- wheeled pedal-powered cycle with a two person seat in the back) drivers could always be found waiting to peddle a GI nearly anywhere in town for 1 or 2 baht (five or ten cents, US).
One night a couple of months after I got there I went with three friends to a bar called the Playboy Club. This establishment was located just one city block away from what we called VC Village, inhabited by Vietnamese refugees many of whom were either Viet Cong or sympathizers. Believe me this was nothing like the night clubs started by Mr. Heffner! It was in what could only be described as a large shack, had a dance floor surrounded by round tables and chairs for the customers, and a live band of That musicians who tried to play and sing American rock and roll. The customers were all Australian and American GIs -- the only Thai Nationals who frequented the club were the local girls who "work same same Suzy Wong."
In order to stay in the establishment one had to be a paying customer. The drinks were expensive -- one Singhi beer cost 20-baht ($1) and was about a half liter. When I had to I could make one Singhi last from the time I got to a club until closing at 2 AM.
That night, although I was short of money as usual, I didn't have to since my a couple of my buddies bought me one.
By the time the bar was almost ready to close my buddies had left, each to his own business. I sat at the table alone, nursing the last of my beer. An attractive woman came to my table and in Pidgin English asked if I wanted to dance. I'd seen her in the club talking to other GIs at various tables for the past couple of hours. I said I didn't know how to dance, but she took my hand and pulled me to the dance floor anyway and I moved to the music in some semblance of a dance. When the music stopped we went back to my table and tried to talk. She didn't speak much English and I didn't speak more than a dozen words in That. By the time I learned that her name was Som the band started playing the Thai National Anthem and the club closed.
Outside in the parking lot she smiled and said "You want pom pom?". I asked her how much and she said the equivalent of $2 short time and $5 all night. I told her, then showed her, that I didn't have enough money to do either and still get back to the base in time for work. She looked at me then said, "you come stay all night anyway." I gave her what little money I had, keeping only 5-baht (25 cents) for transportation and went with her to her bungalow in VC village. In the morning she woke me up and paid a Samlo to drive me back to Checkpoint Charley in time for me to shower, shave, get into uniform and get to my assignment. I was exhausted all day and decided that if I was going to be out late I'd better do it the night before a day off.
My day off work was Friday. The next week I managed to scrape together transportation money and $1 more for a beer and left for town Thursday night. I went to the Playboy Club at about 10 PM, sat and ordered my beer. Within minutes Som came and sat down at my table. I told her that I couldn't go with her because I didn't have any money. She bought me another beer, and told me to come home with her anyway. I did.
The next day she showed me around town. She asked me, "You have wife States?" and I told her yes. She didn't understand why most GIs wearing wedding rings lied and said they were not married. In her culture it was accepted that long separations from a spouse would result in fulfillment of sexual needs by someone else.
She told me she wanted me to be her tilock (lover) and stay with her as long as I didn't go see other girls or care if she continued to "work Suzy Wong." Through broken English and gestures she explained that she had been married but left her husband because he got drunk and beat her. She "work Suzy Wong" to have money to support her five children. Up to that point I lived in an open bay barracks with 20 other airmen, several of whom had stereo tape players which were blaring different music at the same time. I said OK, took a few uniforms and my shaving equipment to her bungalow and effectively moved off base.
It was an illegal move on my part since people of my rank were not allowed to live off base, and people of higher rank were only allowed to live in US government approved quarters -- those which had all of the conveniences of an apartment in the US (stove, refrigerator, flush style toilet, hot water heater, showers, etc.) and cost about the same. I maintained a bunk and locker in the barracks, though from that time on I never slept there.
Som's bungalow was one 10x10 screen enclosed room elevated one story, lit by one 50 watt bulb. There was a Thai style toilet (basically a cement encircled hole leading to a sewer pipe) in the lower portion. Also in that area was our bathing facility -- a 10 gallon baked clay container out of which we used a bowl to dip and pour unheated water over ourselves before lathering and then again to rinse. We'd fill the container with water from a faucet in the yard shared by others who lived in that area.
I bought Som's cigarettes on base since she liked Salem, and gave her my entire pay -- the whole $10 per month. That was exactly what she paid to rent the bungalow.
When I found that we had a small room large enough for them next to the bathing facility, I told her that her children should live with us rather than stay in the country with her parents.
Som treated me like a king. She cooked breakfast and my evening meal for me on a charcoal grill in the courtyard just outside the bungalow. Except for my noon meal, which I usually ate at the dining hall on base, my diet was identical to what the local's ate. Believe me, the hot peppers they use are hotter than anything else in the world!
Sometimes she would make me lunch which I would carry in a three tiered lunch bucket, the same as the Thai nationals who worked on base. She also arranged to have my uniforms cleaned and pressed. She also paid for my Samlo ride to and from Checkpoint Charley. At night before she went out to work she would buy me a liter of Singhi, then bathe, get dressed up, do her hair and makeup, then come and make love with me. Then she'd bathe and re-do her clothes, hair and makeup before she went out to "work same same Suzy Wong." Some times she'd return shortly after the clubs closed, other times she wouldn't return until dawn when she'd wake me for work.
I lived exactly like an ordinary Thai national, except for the fact that I wore a U.S. Air Force uniform and worked on base (and I doubt if any Thai man was treated as well as Som treated me). I'd often get up in the morning with her and take food offerings out to put in the Buddhist Monk's bowls as they made their morning begging tours. The people in the neighborhood recognized me and respected me because I didn't act like I was better than them like most of the other GIs.
It wasn't easy to communicate with Som. She was trying to learn English and refused to speak Thai to me so I had difficulty in trying to learn that language. Her English was rudimentary at best. Many times we'd communicate with a combination of Pidgin English, gestures, and occasional help from a Thai-English/English-That dictionary. For something difficult I'd look up the English word and point to the That translation so she'd know what I meant. She'd do the opposite for me. Somehow it worked.
Thailand is officially a Buddhist country. In the part of Thailand where I was located the common people mixed the official Buddhism with much older and more pagan practices and belief in spirits of the uneducated peasants.
Before she went out at night Som would sit in front of an image of Buddha, light incense, and meditate. I soon started this practice along side of her. Before long if I didn't meditate with her or she didn't see me meditate separately she would chide me saying "Why you no do!?" I soon made it an evening habit to meditate while she was making her final preparations to go out.
I had never tried marijuana and one day asked Som if she could get me some to try. The next day she brought home a bundle of stems loaded with dried leaves and buds that was about two foot long and eight inches in diameter. Before long I habitually smoked a marijuana cigarette before our meditation sessions. It made me feel timeless and as though I were merging with Buddha consciousness as I dispassionately watched colorful mental images flow through me.
In Thailand it is the custom for every male to be ordained as a monk at least once in his lifetime. The time spent in a Wat (a Thai Buddhist monastery) could be as little as one day, or as much as the rest of the man's life. Regardless of the amount of time spent as a monk, it was a social stigma not to fulfill that custom.
After a couple of months with Som I let her know that I wanted to spend my three day R&R as a monk in a Wat. She made the arrangements and I went to a Wat about 50 kilometers away where I was ordained in the traditional fashion -- my hair and eyebrows shaved off, and I was presented with a wooden begging bowl. I didn't understand the words that were spoken, (this was, in part, a taking of vows of chastity and poverty) but was prompted what to respond and when and managed to stumble through it.
I was assigned to be taught by another, an expatriate American who had decided to spend his life as a monk. At least I could understand his language! Our days were simple. Every morning at 4 AM we would be awakened by a gong, perform our toilet, and take our begging bowls to the street. We'd walk along the roadway and people would come out of their homes and place small balls of rice, and sometimes dried fish or squid, in our begging bowls in return for our blessing. Later we'd return to the Wat and meditate in front of gigantic images of Buddha.
Then we would do the chores of sweeping and cleaning the Wat and its icons. At 10 AM we would sit and eat that which we had been given early in the morning. The meals were taken slowly, as a part of the meditation process. As an example my mentor told me to concentrate on the food, to think about where it came from, every step, to feel the taste, and to visualize how it digested and became one with my body. That was our only meal of the day.
Most of the afternoon was taken up with meditation, each monk doing as he was able. My mentor merely had me focus on my body until I became one with the discomfort in my joints from sitting in a half lotus posture. It's interesting that when I meditated that way the discomfort didn't last long. He also taught me to focus on my breathing and to imagine what it did for my body in much the same way as I was supposed to do with the food.
At the end of my third day I went through another ceremony where I was stripped of my ordination, and released from my vows of poverty and chastity. I gave away my begging bowl to another new monk before I left, though I kept my saffron colored robes.
I feel like I became a better person for that experience. Although I have maintained a love and respect for Buddhism I never felt appropriate practicing it outside of it's home continent.
One evening not many days after I returned from the Wat Som and I heard a commotion at one of the neighbor's bungalows. We went over there to see what was going on and saw a woman writhing on the floor in what looked to me to be an epileptic fit. Several people were standing around watching. I was the only white person. Som asked me if I knew what was happening. I couldn't explain, so looked up epilepsy in our little dictionary and showed her the word. She shook her head violently, took the dictionary and showed me the Thai word that translated into devils or bad spirits. Within a few minutes a middle aged Thai man appeared. He wore a head band with small feathers in it, as well as a red and white checked pacama (a garment worn something like a towel would be worn by a man just out of a shower), a small pouch on a strap around his neck, and carried a rattle. He began shaking the rattle over the woman's writhing body and singing some kind of a chant. While he was shaking the rattle and chanting he took rice out of his pouch and sprinkled it over the woman's body. After about 10 to 15 minutes of this the woman stopped shaking and got up, seemingly normal. Som said the man had sent the bad spirit away. Then she said, "No same same Buddha, same same Lao." I was definitely interested in what he was doing and who he was, but the language barrier made it impossible for me to talk to him.
In October I was promoted to Staff Sergeant. A month later I was surprised to find that in addition to the additional money that was already sent back to Daisy, I had a pay envelope of about $500. I converted $450 of that into Thai currency. When I got home that night I told Som I had something for her. She was surprised and delighted when I gave her the money. I don't think she'd ever seen that much at one time in her life.
I'd repaid her faith and kindness to me in a way she hadn't expected. As a Staff Sergeant I was finally eligible to extend my tour of duty by one year. I applied for the extension but it was denied because I was within 90 days of rotation back to the States. Som and I did not look forward to my leaving because we knew we would never see each other again. We both cried the day I left. We maintained a written correspondence for a while, through different GIs she met, but she finally moved to another location and I never got a new address. I miss her still.
During my year in Thailand I kept up a correspondence with Bill and Helen Mohs who were handling The Waxing Moon for me. Although we had never met in person our friendship grew. When I got my orders to be shipped to the 1370th Photo Mapping Wing at Forbes AFB, Topeka, Kansas I notified Bill and Helen and we arranged for me to meet them in Los Angeles on my way back. In late December, 1967 I left Thailand for the United States.
Apparently the pictures we had exchanged did not convey our likeness very well!
Although they were already at the airport when I got off the plane at Los Angeles International in the middle of the night we wandered the terminal for hours looking for each other, and passing each other at least three times. We finally connected and they drove me to their home in Culver City.
Bill and Helen were both older than me, Bill by 15 years and Helen by 10. He was a clerk with a trucking company and she was a housewife. At that time they had the two children they were going to have, Butch about seven years old and Fawn under one year. We liked each other immediately and got little sleep the first few days I was there because we were constantly talking.
They had a long standing interest in occult matters and although they did not seem to be as well read as I was in some areas they were more knowledgeable in others.
They told me of their experiences with the Ouija board and their interpretation that Aphrodite and Pan wanted them to reestablish their worship. They introduced me to some of their friends, and took me to what they called a "coven" meeting conducted by one of their female friends. It was very ceremonial, and foreign to anything I had experienced before. I recognized it's primary elements as modifications and adaptations from A.E. Waite's Book of Ceremonial Magic. One thing we agreed upon was that we would like to have a community of neighbors who were involved in similar spiritual practices. Bill was dissatisfied with his job and they both told me that after I was settled in Topeka they would be interested in moving there. I agreed to help them do so. They both claimed to be knowledgeable of sex magic. I told them about my initiation and teaching by Barbara. Helen suggested we practice together. Bill nodded his approval, so Helen and I retired to a bedroom. It was unsatisfactory, since I discovered that her interpretation of sex magic was derived from reading and misunderstanding some of Aleister Crowley's books, not from personal instruction. The next day when Bill was at work we decided to try again, but that session pleasantly deteriorated to purely physical pleasure. That night after Bill got home we talked about it for some time. I explained the difficulties of maintaining mental concentration on the intended magical result, and suggested that if we were to do that again we must have a clear goal shared between both partners in mind.
Bill suggested we just attempt to get a manifestation of Pan and Aphrodite to come. We agreed upon that as a goal. I told them that I had smuggled an ounce of marijuana back from Thailand with me, and told them of my experiences while meditating under it's influence. Neither of them had tried it before and said they wanted to do so as a part of the next experiment. So we smoked some marijuana then went into the bedroom.
Bill made some purification prayers, then read Crowley's Invocation to Pan and another similar poem that he had written to Aphrodite as Helen and I removed our clothes. This time she and I felt our consciousnesses flood with the aspects of divinity that we were calling. I guess we had a kind of channeling. Later Bill told me that he asked Pan and Aphrodite questions and that they had given him answers, although my trance was deep enough so that I don't remember that happening. I don't particularly care for experiences where I can't remember what they were.
On January 2nd, 1968 I took the letters and other papers that Bill had accumulated regarding The Waxing Moon and caught a flight to Lansing, Michigan where I was met by my father and reunited with Daisy and the children. I spent a couple of weeks there getting reacquainted with the family. Daisy asked me bluntly about Som and Helen and I told her the truth. She said she didn't like it, but guessed it was only fair. During this time my brother traded me a dose of LSD in exchange for what was left of my marijuana. Since I had read that people using LSD frequently had out-of-body experiences I wanted to try it in an attempt to consciously project my astral body. The experiment was a failure.
Shortly thereafter we moved to Topeka where we rented a two bedroom house located about two miles from the Air Force base. I was assigned as a clerk in the 1370th Photo Mapping Wing's Organizational Maintenance Squadron. During this time the mission of the Wing (later to become the First Cartographic and Geodetic Service) was to map the world. They did this by flying over every area in the free world and taking aerial color photographs which were then pieced together. The unclassified maps were released to the public. The color in the photographs could be interpreted as to mineral content and sources, so much of the mission remains classified to this day.
That year the mission was to photo-map Brazil. Our troops would go down there on 90-day temporary duty assignments, then come back being replaced by others. I wanted desperately to go since I had a long standing interest in Amanda, an African based religion brought to Brazil by the slaves who were imported by the Portuguese. Unfortunately I was never selected. My spirit duplicator had been damaged beyond repair during it's stay with Bill and Helen, so I decided to offset print all future issues of The Waxing Moon. I had put a new advertisement in Fate and published two new issues during the first six months of my tour at Forbes. I continued to write numerous letters to people both in the United States and England, and introducing them when they asked to be put in touch with someone with similar interests in their own geographical areas.
After a couple of months Bill and Helen still wanted to move to Topeka. I found a house for them about a city block away from ours and put a rental deposit on it for them. They rented a large U-Haul trailer, packed up their belongings, and headed east. It was a poorly planned adventure. Bill had no job prospects in Topeka. After they arrived Helen decided that she didn't like the house I'd obtained for them and refused to move into it. We stored their belongings in our garage and they came into our home on a "temporary" basis. This created a crowd of four adults, six children, and my two pet monkeys in a small two bedroom tract home. During our first week together Bill, Helen and I, with Daisy's reluctant participation, conducted a couple of minor experimental ceremonies which were a combination of their tradition and mine. These met with a certain amount of success, but were not spectacular.
After that the relationship between us began to become strained. Bill and Helen did not contribute financially to our living arrangement. After two weeks Daisy began complaining to me that after I went to work and Bill went job hunting all Helen would do was sit and talk while she watched her. She wouldn't help clean, cook, or care for the children. I told Daisy she should ask Helen for help, and I presume she did. After a week or so more Daisy felt like she was being used. I agreed with her and talked to both Bill and Helen about it.
Bill tried to be understanding, but Helen was defensive stating that she was a guest in our house and a guest shouldn't be required to do anything. I told her that after this period of time they were no longer guests and that she could either contribute and help, or leave. The next day after I got home from the base Daisy told me that Helen had again done nothing all day and that Bill came back about an hour before I did and took her and their children out. They got back at 11 PM. I told them that since they couldn't contribute to the household they had to leave. They got angry and left that night. I didn't hear from them again until 1973.
During the next month I discovered that the squadron was disposing of the out of date aircraft survival packages by simply throwing them in a dumpster. I arranged to get access those packages before they were thrown away and removed the amphetamine sulfate tablets. Each packet contained ten 5-grain tablets, and each tablet was strong enough to keep a person wide awake for 48 or more hours. I was able to get about 300 of them. After taking the tablets and closing my eyes I could see vivid colored images, like dreaming while awake, and sometimes could control those awake dreams. In them I investigated many aspects of my psyche, and I suppose learned a technique similar to shamanic journeying by trial and error. By the time I ran out of tablets I was taking five or more of them per day and had not had any real sleep for at least 30 days. I went through nearly a month of deep depression, though I was still able to function, as I detoxified from the amphetamine.
In response to my advertisement offering The Waxing Moon I was contacted by three writers who were doing books. One letter was from a person who identified herself as Brad Steger's secretary and informed me that he was interested in interviewing me for his upcoming book about "witchcraft". The letter was filled with misspellings and sloppy typewriting. I thought that if he wanted to interview me he should contact me, and that if his secretary was that sloppy his work was probably as bad. I ignored the request. The next letter was from Hanz Holzer, with a similar request. Although I wasn't overly interested I corresponded with him for a while and sent him complementary copies of the newsletter. He never did get back in touch with me, although I was mentioned in several of his books over the next few years.
The last was from a woman named Susan Roberts. I had never heard of her. She explained that she had a contract with Dell and asked for my help. I decided that I'd do what I could for her and eventually introduced her to Ed Fitch and John and Jay Hanson as well as several other people who claimed to be practicing the Old Religion. By then I had something of a national reputation and was asked to give local radio, television, and newspaper interviews, which I did.
As a clerk in that squadron I had little to do and was bored. I decided that I should apply for retraining as a journalist and so put in my application and attached copies of The Waxing Moon as proof of my writing ability and interest. My application was approved and I was scheduled to attend an intensive 10-week course in Basic Military Journalism at the Defense Information School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, Indiana starting in September of that year.
During this time I continued my correspondence with Susan Roberts. One of the questions she asked was if we were going to have any more children. I told her that I didn't know but if we did it would be a girl and we would name her Juanita Rose. I guess my confidence in that matter impressed her.
I went to Fort Benjamin Harrison to begin classes in early September. During this time Susan had a business trip to Indianapolis so we had a chance to meet and she spent a couple of days interviewing me. Classes lasted 8 hours per day, five days a week for 10 weeks. I completed the course, was graduated 10th in my class, and returned to Topeka in December. By the first of January, 1969 I assumed my new duties as a newspaper reporter in the Information Office. It didn't take long to discover that the journalistic ethics taught in school were not applied in reality, a fact that disturbed me. I busied myself writing profiles of various people on base, ghost wrote some of the Wing Commander's column for the base paper, and became the Information Officer for the local squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, where I did a poor job. I was given the additional duty of wing historian -- a job I knew nothing about. I decided I wanted to go overseas again where life might be a little more interesting.
I wanted to go to England where I had made contact with numerous people who claimed to have knowledge of the Old Religion. Certain that I would get the assignment I volunteered for duty in that country, then concentrated on learning the differences between the American and English languages (about 900 words, 300 of them common, have different meanings in each language) and learning to figure money in Pounds Shillings and Pence.
Daisy was pregnant again and gave birth to Juanita Rose on August 20th, 1969. At almost the same time I got orders for a three year tour with the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire, England. Although I could have turned down the assignment due to my wife's having just given birth, I did not do so. I didn't think I would get such a choice assignment again. This time Daisy and the children could join me overseas (at government expense!), although I had to go there first and arrange for acceptable housing.
In early August I gave an interview to Gene Smith, a reporter for the Topeka daily newspaper. He did a full page photo feature on me which was published just before I left in September.
I sold my guns since if I took them with me to England they would have to be locked in an armory for the duration of the tour. I didn't want to leave them with Daisy or my parents because I thought my brother, who was a heroin addict, would get and use them in some criminal activity. In September we moved my wife and children back to Michigan on a temporary basis, and I caught my flight to England. On the way I stopped in New York to visit Susan Roberts and look at the galley proofs of her book. Also at that meeting was Ed Fitch, Ray Buckland, John Hanson, and Joe Luchak. We agreed that her book was as accurate as possible, and knew that after publication it would generate a lot of mail. Ed, John, and I agreed to remain in constant postal contact to coordinate the efforts of dealing with the mail so it could all be answered. One of the things we discussed was the problem of so many people wanting to become involved with the Old Religion, but there being so few people who had any knowledge or lineage to refer them to.
Ed told me he had a partial solution. He had written two manuscripts which he gave me. He said he gave them to selected people that he thought were worthy of getting more into the Craft. He told me I could give them to people if I wanted. One was titled the Outer Court Grimoire of Shadows, and contained theory and exercises designed to develop psychic abilities. This was freely plagiarized from Fraz Bardon's book, Initiation into Hermetics. The other was titled the Outer Court Book of Shadows. This one was a series of formal rituals for each season of the year, the full moon, marriage, initiation, and so forth. Although I was uncomfortable with his writing style in that manuscript (I thought it was just too pseudo Olde Englishe) I thought the general concept was excellent.
I arrived at RAF Upper Heyford on a Friday afternoon. I signed in, was assigned a bunk in a barracks, and stored my luggage. Then I telephoned Ruth Wynn-Owen at her flat in London. She seemed thrilled to hear from me and invited me to come and visit. So that evening I took a train to London and followed her instructions for taking the tube (subway) to Ealing. I walked the few blocks from the station to 9 Queens road where she lived. We had a delightful meeting, and she introduced me to several others who were involved with the Old Religion. One was Andrew Stains, a fellow actor who was her lover. Andrew was 20 years younger than Ruth. Another was Reg Hinchliffe, a photographer and member of the Gardnerian Wicca that I had been corresponding with. Reg lived in northern England. Finally was Colin Couchman and Marged Nichols, a young couple that had recently broken off from their old Gardnerian Wiccan group and were forming their own coven. That Saturday evening Ruth conducted services of the Plant Bran in her flat. I had already memorized the prayers she had sent me while I was still in the United States. She was impressed. The others, who had been attending her services for months, still did not have them memorized. Colin and Marged recognized my involvement from the United States and gave me an open invitation to attend their circles when I came to London.
Sunday I returned to RAF Upper Heyford and reported for duty Monday morning. I registered for a 3-bedroom house in the base housing area and was told that there was none available so I started to look for suitable housing off base. So many interesting things happened in my first few months there that I can't really put them in order, so I'll just tell about them without worrying which came first.
About two weeks after my arrival the base Staff Judge Advocate (kind of like a Prosecuting Attorney) called me into his office for questioning. It seems that the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) (the Air Force's intelligence agency, similar to the FBI, CIA, CID, DIA etc.) had clipped the photo feature that Gene Smith had published and included it in a report about my religious activities. I told him that the first amendment to the constitution guaranteed my right to practice religion my own way, and the fact that I wasn't Christian was not his business, and that I considered his questions to be religious harassment. A few days later I was ordered to report to a psychiatrist for evaluation at RAF Lakenheath, near London.
The psychiatrist was quite reasonable. I explained to him the possible relationship between God and Goddess or any other religious images and experiences with Jungian archetypes and said that in my opinion it didn't matter which was correct, since the spiritual effects and results were the same. He told me the Staff Judge Advocate had overstepped his authority, gave me a relatively clean bill of health, asked to be put on my mailing list for The Waxing Moon and returned me to duty.
I made arrangements to attend Ruth's Samhain (October 31st Feast in Honor of the Ancestors) celebration at Ian's, her husband, estate in the north of England, near the Scots border. Ian was a likable man who didn't participate but also didn't mind his wife's activities, including her lover, so long as she used her stage name and not her married name. I found this to be an interesting and enjoyable service, but not what I was used to. Reg Hinchliffe had just got a new place to live and invited me to his Hovel Warming. I gladly accepted. While there he introduced me to a woman (whom I'll call Lady Alice) who had 3rd degree Gardnerian Initiation. She was on the outs with her High Priestess and High Priest, Pat and Arnold Crouthers, because she had been tricked by Alex Saunders into letting him copy her Book of Shadows (a handwritten document that contains all of the Gardnerian ceremonies and laws). Alex had taken that information, put forth claims of having been Initiated by his Grandmother, started initiating people and forming covens, giving interviews to the radio, television, and tabloid newspapers, and proclaimed himself King of the Witches-- a situation which gave the Crouthers' and other Gardnerian's no end of grief. Lady Alice offered to initiate me and I accepted. I got my first degree that evening. Over the next month I made two more trips north where I was initiated into the second, then third degrees. The third degree contains a sexual aspect, known as the Great Rite, which is the consummation of a sacred union between the Goddess (represented by the Priestess) and the God (represented by the Priest). Done properly as it was during my initiation, it is a very spiritual and moving experience-- done improperly it's just an orgy. Although apparently most of the Gardnerian "secrets" have since been published and corrupted by others, I did take an oath not to reveal what was taught "except in a circle such as we are now in" during my initiations and so won't go into detail about any specific practice.
Lady Alice told me that because of her banishment by Pat and Arnold my initiation probably would not be recognized by others of the same tradition. I didn't tell her but because of my background I found the tradition she passed on to me to be too foreign to my orientation anyway, and so did not plan to pursue the matter or seek acceptance in related groups. Besides, as a "High Priest" in a Gardnerian circle I would be little more than a glorified altar boy whose job was to assist the High Priestess. I did, however, attend Colin and Marged's Full Moon rites each month. They were in the process of the heresy of modifying the Gardnerian tradition so that there would be more of a balance of responsibility between men and women. Still, like all Gardnerian circles of the time these rituals were performed "Skyclad" i.e., naked. Since the British climate is rather cold I was glad these were performed indoors. I assisted them with several initiations during my stay.
Ruth introduced me to Norman Giles, a man who lived in Oxford. He had been a friend of Roy Bowers aka Robert Cochran and was with him when he ritually drank a potion of poisonous herbs and took his own life. Norman lived in a house that had been in his family for over 300 years. He was a bit eccentric and insisted that he could photograph fairy spirits under the right conditions. He showed me his pictures, and what he interpreted as fairies I saw as probably dirt on his camera lens. Nevertheless I'd go and chat with him once a week and he taught me a lot about Roy's orientation, the 1734 tradition, some journeying and visionary techniques, and some psychic stuff, including how to do psychometry and a bit of palm reading. He gave me Roy's letters to him. He also let me know that sometimes Roy was mixing truth with falsehood, and showed me how certain things he had furnished me were obviously forgeries. I was hurt and disappointed, but grew out of it.
I advertised The Waxing Moon in the British edition of Fate magazine and got a fair response. I attempted to advertise in Prediction and other occult oriented magazines in that country, but my advertisements were rejected as not suitable. I was never able to word them in such a way that they would be accepted. One of the people who responded to the Fate advertisement sent my letter and copy of TWM to his brother, Tony Kelly, in Wales. Tony and I began a long and detailed correspondence and established deep respect for each other. He liked what I was doing with TWM but thought I had too much "occult" emphasis and urged me to focus more on Earth Religion themes.
In November two things of importance happened. First I found a flat in Banbury, about 5 miles from the base, and was able to send for Daisy and the kids. They and our household goods arrived about a month later. Also Susan Roberts book, now titled Witches U.S.A. hit the stands. After my experience with the Staff Judge Advocate I braced myself for what would happen next. Sure enough, Special Agents Green and Jones of the OSI called me in to question me. I assured them that my activities were completely outside of the Air Force and had nothing to do with it and I could not be blackmailed for my activity because I didn't keep it secret and wasn't afraid of anyone finding out, therefore it was none of their concern. They let me go, but I knew they were watching me constantly from then on.
Our flat in Banbury was heated by only one fireplace in which we burned coal that had been purified to meet England's environmental standards. We supplemented this heat with paraffin (kerosene) space heaters, but were still very cold. After a couple of weeks there I checked with the base housing office to see how long the wait would be. They told me that since I had five children, and if I was willing to accept a four bedroom place instead of a three bedroom, I could have an apartment immediately. I thought they were nuts for not telling me that the first time I was there, but then realized I was dealing with the bureaucratic mind -- a contradiction in terms. We got our lease canceled and moved into a four bedroom centrally heated base housing unit at 8 Wellington Close, at Glory Farm, Bicester, Oxford within two weeks.
Also in December of 1989 I was appointed Wing Historian and transferred out of the Information Office where I had written stories for the base newspaper and conducted tours of the installation for visiting civilian groups. I did not want to be the Historian, since I knew nothing about the job, but the fact that I had that title back at Forbes AFB made me the "most qualified." Funny how being called a name makes one qualified!
Again that was the bureaucratic mind at work. Captain Jungwirth, the Information Officer, didn't care for my attitude expressed when the first squadron of All Weather Swing Wing F-111 fighter aircraft could not leave the U.S. for RAF Upper Heyford due to rain. That's probably the real reason I was put in a "safe" assignment, away from the public.
I was sent to Headquarters United States Air Forces in Europe at Wiesbaden, Germany on a two day temporary duty assignment where I was given poor rudimentary instruction on what to do and promised help by telephone when needed. Back at RAF Upper Heyford I was given authorization to access all of the classified information the Wing had, and told to begin writing the quarterly histories, showing how the Wing's mission was being accomplished -- what went right, and what went wrong.
As Historian I was a member of the Wing Commander's staff, and by regulation was supposed to report only to him, and to operate my historical duties with his full authority. I soon discovered that the theory is quite different from reality. I got little or no cooperation from the people I interviewed, and was often not shown the written data I needed to write my reports. The Wing Commander did not support my efforts. He and others deliberately hid information they thought showed them as less than perfect, meanwhile Headquarters USAFE demanded that I include that same information in my histories. When I told my Historical superiors about my difficulties in getting information they told me "everybody has that problem, work around it." So much for their help.
After Susan Roberts' book was published we received a lot of mail. Among others I established contact with Tom DeLong of the San Francisco Bay area who had written to me because our approaches to the Old Religion appeared to be similar. Tom preferred to be known by the name he used in the Society for Creative Anachronism, a medieval historical society. This name was Gwydion Penderwin. I soon included him in the joint correspondence held with Tony Kelly, John Hanson, and Ed Fitch. When one of us wrote a letter we made carbon copies and sent it to everyone on the list. Some letters were three or four thousand words long. At least one of Tony's contained over 10,000 words.
Hundreds of the letters we got were requests for information on how to start practicing the Old Religion. We jointly decided to take Ed's idea of an Outer Court a step or two further and we collaborated on a book of religious rituals and practices suitable for those who had to start without personal guidance. Each of us contributed something of substance from our own background to share, rituals, theories, and so forth.
Ed wrote the majority of the rituals and incorporated the other things that he thought were suitable. It turned out to be a fairly decent small book. We decided to provide this information to anyone who asked for it in return for postage and printing costs. We also decided not to copyright it and to keep the authorship anonymous so that it could be freely copied and passed on to anyone else without guilt. That turned out to be a mistake, since in the early 70s this Pagan Way material was appropriated by Herman Slater who had it published by Weiser. We'd have been better off doing that ourselves, and maintaining the credit. But then this was the free Hippie era, and freedom was our ideal. Or at least mine.
I thought it would be helpful if we had an organization to help get things rolling. The others agreed, but they disagreed on how. Eventually we divided into three "sister" groups, with Tom starting "Nemeton" on the west coast, John and Ed forming "Pagan Way" on the east coast, and me being the first leader of "Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland", in England. Whenever any of us got a request from someone in another's geographical area we would forward that request to the appropriate group.
I found it impossible to pay for postage of The Waxing Moon to the United States so I asked John to take over publication there. He agreed, I gave him my U.S. mailing list, and we now had two separate editions being published, one for each country. Later this resulted in confusion so, with my agreement, John and Ed changed the name of the U.S. edition to The Crystal Well, and not much later John turned the entire publication over to Ed. It became the official organ of "Pagan Way". I turned The Waxing Moon into the official organ of "Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland". We made it a practice of mailing our publications to other "underground press" periodicals, and listing the ones we exchanged with in an advertisement in the back. This exchange resulted in free advertising for each periodical. One of the publications we exchanged with was Green Egg a journal used as the organ of the "Church of All Worlds" out of St. Louis, Missouri. This church was founded by Tim Zell (now Oberon/Otter G'Zell), and was based upon his interpretation of the Church of All Worlds from Robert Heinlein's (sorry, I can't spell his last name) Stranger in a Strange Land.
Tim called his church a Neo-Pagan denomination. It's major emphasis seemed to be free love and ecological considerations. Both platforms were something I could agree with. I'd contribute an occasional letter to be published in Green Egg. It was my policy to support the right of anyone to call themselves what they wanted to, and practice religion the way they saw fit. Some others disagreed and there were literary arguments about the right of lineage through initiation of various traditions.
Just like Mac had warned me so many years before. I took the unpopular position of supporting Gavin & Yvonne Frost's right to call themselves "witches" and teach a course-- I said, and still say, I may disagree with their approach, but they have the same rights as anyone else. Somehow this raised the ire of another contributor to Green Egg, one "Dr." Leo Louis Martello. Martello is an obnoxious cuss who made it a practice of attacking in print anyone who slightly disagreed with him. I suppose that made him feel important. He's still around, and as far as I know, just as obnoxious.
In January or February of 1970, in response to requests from people I'd contacted through The Waxing Moon, and "Pagan Movement" (we shortened the name) I started having open meetings in my home and encouraging others to do the same thing. We conducted these religious and teaching ceremonies regularly on the Second Saturday of every month. I was tired of the OSI investigating me because of my religious activities so mailed them, the base commander, the base chaplain, and the wing commander an invitation to attend the meetings each month. I told them that since they were so interested in what I was doing they might as well attend and find out first hand and see if I had any illegal activity or other deep dark secrets to hide. They always declined the invitation, though I think the OSI may have sent undercover people to report on my activities.
I began to consider getting out of the Air Force because of the harassment I had been experiencing. The trouble was that I had just re-enlisted in order to accept the assignment to England and had three and one half years to go. I thought about applying for a humanitarian discharged based upon nonviolent religious beliefs (which could be supported by sworn statements by others in the movement). Ed begged me not to "give the Craft a reputation as pacifists." Since I wasn't really a pacifist I finally chose not to follow that course of action. I did decide to discuss the matter of the OSI and related problems with the base chaplain. I made it a habit of visiting him every couple of weeks. Although our religious orientation was obviously different (he was a Southern Baptist) we got along well and respected each others approach to Divinity. The period of time between then and early 1972 is a blur. I can't tell exactly when certain events happened, probably because I compounded the problems I was having by drinking too much most of the time. I didn't drink at work, but afterwards would go to the Non Commissioned Officer's (NCO) Club and drink in the bar before going home, then continue to drink there.
Once a friend of mine, who was within one month of the end of his enlistment, was arrested on suspicion of using marijuana. Because of my position I was able to find out the evidence they had against him and furnish him with that information, thus enabling him to beat the charge.
The OSI knew I was the person who provided him with that information, but couldn't bring charges against me because they had no hard evidence. They did call me in and read me my rights, at which time I told them I wanted a lawyer. I was appointed one, spoke to him, then we went back in for the interview. The Special Agents again read me my rights and asked me the question. My lawyer said "My client declines to make a statement at this time." End of interview, and end of problem, for the time being.
In spite of this habit I was still able to write numerous letters, and my correspondence with Tony Kelly grew to many volumes of pages. We discussed philosophy, religion, the Earth Mother, sexual habits of human beings, and how everything fit together. Membership in Pagan Movement grew to about 300 at one time, but most of the members didn't want to contribute any thoughts -- they just wanted to read what we produced or attend our meetings as participants or observers. Although I didn't mind that, Tony objected strongly and when he took over leadership of the Pagan Movement began to do things to make those who were what he called unproductive drop their membership.
I also wrote numerous letters to the editor of the Stars and Stripes Europe, the military newspaper, and the Overseas Weekly it's civilian nemesis. Whatever the military tried to cover up and the Stars and Stripes glossed over, the Overseas Weekly would publish with the glee of a tabloid. In October of 1970 a reporter from the Overseas Weekly came to attend Pagan Movement's Samhain festival. Since we didn't hide anything or try to be silly and secretive, we received an excellent two page write up and photo feature, which provided good publicity for us. In the same issue was the story of a scandal at RAF Upper Heyford which the Information Office had tried to gloss over and cover up. Captain Jungwirth told me that I faired better than he did in the respective articles. I told him that was because I practiced what was taught in journalism school about openness and honesty being the best policy, and he tried to be sneaky and evasive.
Sometime towards the middle of that year I discovered, because of my access to classified information, that the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing to which I was assigned stock piled nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and flew sorties with these weapons armed and ready for detonation. I don't know what sort of Top Secret agreement the United States and the United Kingdom had, but the Status of Forces agreement between the two countries specifically prohibited those weapons from being on British soil.
I was deeply disturbed by this, so wrote a letter to my boss, the Wing Commander, telling him of my upset and requesting to be relieved of my position as Historian so I wouldn't come in contact with that kind of knowledge again. He immediately relieved me of my duties and stripped me of all access to classified information, although he left my security clearance intact. I was hoping to be reassigned to the information office, but Captain Jungwirth didn't want me there. I guess I'd made an enemy of him.
The Wing Commander had me transferred to another unit on base, illegally had me stripped of my Journalist-Historian specialty code, and put me in the "temporary" position of a publications clerk, with a low skill level. He left me in the position where my rank (and therefore pay scale) could be taken from me with only an administrative action. The base Administrative Officer, for whom I now worked, hinted to me that I was being processed for a discharge at the convenience of the government because I was "unsuitable for military service."
That same week Special Agents Green and Jones of the OSI called me into their office. They said that they heard I had some problems, and maybe they could help me -- if I was willing to help them.
I asked them what they wanted. They said they were not interested in my religious activities since they had already investigated my involvement in that and found nothing wrong. They also apologized for the Staff Judge Advocate's high handed treatment of me when I first arrived, saying that he had absolutely no right to do what he did. They said they wanted me to continue my activities with Pagan Movement since that put me in the middle of the Hippie counter-culture. Then they asked if I had ever heard of the P.E.A.C.E. movement.
I said everyone knew about anti-war protesters, their activities were in the news every day. They explained that what they were interested in was a specific group lead by an American exchange student at one of the colleges at the University at Oxford. He'd started this group and was recruiting people from on base to participate. Instead of "peace" the initials P.E.A.C.E. stood for People Emerging Against Corrupt Establishments. They suspected that members of his group were not non-violent anti Viet Nam war protesters, but were involved in such activities as the fire bombing of the base dining hall which had occurred the month before. They wanted me to attend the meetings of his group and report what I observed to them. After they showed me evidence that convinced me that the financing for the P.E.A.C.E. movement came from the Soviet Embassy in London I agreed to attend a meeting.
My motivation was a combination of feeling the pressure of being blackmailed and an immature "James Bond" excitement over being involved with an under cover espionage activity.
I attended every meeting and reported my observations to Green and Jones every week.
Whatever else he was, the Oxford Student (I don't remember his name) was a master at manipulating groups to do what he wanted yet make them think that it was their idea in the first place. One of the ways he would do this was to say something like, "Some of us were discussing what we should do about such and such or so and so. Here's what you suggested." Then he'd sketch out three or four "ideas" all but one of which were logically flawed in some obvious way. Of course the group would all agree on the logical one, which he had preselected. I never found anyone who was in on the "some of us were discussing" aspect of things. I also learned that several of the people who attended those meetings were in trouble with the military and civilian authorities. One was nick-named Razor for his tendency to carry a straight razor as a weapon. I worried about him and his friends discovering what I was doing.
Pagan Movement was growing into a specific new non-initiatory religious tradition with a strong British flavor. We recognized the Earth as Goddess, and personified Her in triple form as Mab (Maid), Mabh (Mother), and Maghu (Hag) -- corresponding with the three obvious seasons of Spring, Summer, and Winter. God was recognized in two aspects, one as Tor the Sky Father (intellect) which gives energy to everyone (similar to Apollo, Lugh, Balor, Mabon or the sun gods of various other cultures as well as rain and thunder gods, and the other as the Bririn the Horned God (emotion) with a lusty animal nature (similar to Pan before he became a simple goat-god, or Cernunos of Celtic myth).
This orientation, along with the fact that we refused to import any occult practices (we were not opposed to occult practices, but felt they should arise from within, not be imported from without) as being foreign to our objective, and in particular refused to accept the Qabalah since it's origins were in the Middle East, and not Great Britain, offended some members who dropped out.
One of them, John Score, formed his own group which he called Pagan Front, as a screening for people interested in Gardnerian Wicca. I didn't mind, because I thought that the more groups there were the more alternate religions such as mine would be tolerated.
John, on the other hand, was so upset he refused to speak to me again and returned all of my letters unopened.
While I conducted monthly circles (I don't like to call them ceremonies or rituals, because they were certainly not formal or rigid in that respect) Tony and his wives, Pat and Betty, worked on developing Seasonal Ceremonies. These ceremonies were not to be based on the calendar like other traditions, but on the development shown by Nature --the Flowering of Spring, Ripening of Grain and Fruit in summer, Harvest, and so forth.
We felt that these Seasonal Ceremonies should be celebrations which included a psychodrama of the celebrants enacting in theatrical form what nature was doing. All of the seasonal celebrations were done on Tony's five acre farm land in Wales.
On some things Tony simply would not compromise. For example when the season of Spring indicated a sexual union between Mab and Bririn (as shown by the mating of the birds and the pollination of flowers), nothing would do but to include that as a part of the celebration. I objected, not because of some prudish personality traits, but because our membership consisted of 80 to 90 percent men and there would be a large imbalance. (In fact since I founded The Waxing Moon 80 to 90 percent or more of the people who subscribed or wrote to me were men. The major complaint of those involved in the Old Religion was that they couldn't find enough women who were interested. -- my how times have changed.)
I felt that everyone who wanted to participate in that should be able to do so, but with that imbalance it would not be possible. We finally compromised a little -- we agreed that the women who attended would select among themselves who would represent Mab. The men would who wanted to represent Bririn would enter a contest of poetic and physical skills with Mab being the judge. The one She selected would participate with her in that part of the celebration.
Some thought that, at the appropriate part of the ceremony, they should go off to a private area to consummate the union. Tony strongly objected, so the representatives of the Goddess and God had sex in the center of the circle while the of the rest of the participants watched. Although this worked OK the first couple of times, the practice caused dissension and near dissolution (due to jealousy) of Pagan Movement a few years later.
People would come from all over the island to attend my open meetings. Since they came from great distances we'd let them crash over night if they wanted. Sometimes Daisy would be attracted to one or more of the men and would invite him to sleep in our bed with us. I found her excitement at having sex with two men at once to be very erotic.
For several months Daisy would go to the NCO club, sometimes with me and sometimes alone, to drink and dance in the bar. Nearly every time she went she met someone different who turned her on and they would disappear into his car while she satisfied her lust. Sometimes more than one a night. She always returned to me. I was not jealous. To me jealousy is not a sign of love, but is a sign of insecurity -- a fear of losing a possession. I've never believed that people should be possessions. I thought that if she needed that physical release she should have it. All I wanted in return was similar consideration.
One Saturday night we met another couple, whose names I can't remember, at the NCO club. I'd seen the woman before and knew that she had a reputation similar to Daisy's. Her husband was as tolerant as I was. We shared a table and talked and drank together until closing, then they gave us a ride home. We continued to drink for a while at home, then Daisy and the woman's husband went upstairs to our bedroom to have sex.
The woman and I got undressed and started to make out on the couch. Suddenly Daisy came screaming naked down the stairs, in a rage, hitting and scratching me, calling the other woman a whore and bitch, pulling her hair, and so forth. That put a sudden stop to the evening! I began to feel resentful and bitter towards Daisy, a feeling that built up over the years.
Daisy got pregnant again and had no idea who the father was or what color the baby would be. The US government had just changed it's laws and allowed abortions to be performed in military hospitals, so Daisy made an appointment with a doctor to discuss that possibility. We went in together and the doctor, after he found out we already had five children, told her that he would approve an abortion on the condition that I have a vasectomy at the same time. His eyes got quite wide when she stuck her chin in the air and said, "That won't keep me from getting pregnant." She agreed to have her tubes tied and he arranged for the termination of that pregnancy. I think she always regretted that decision and felt guilty about it.
Eventually the P.E.A.C.E. movement people decided to attend an anti-war protest held at Speakers Corner in London, and go to a demonstration/concert afterwards. According to British Law anyone can say anything (including threaten the Queen or advocate the violent overthrow of the government) at Speakers Corner without fear of legal reprisal. There are always soap box speakers there, advocating any of a number of causes, some quite offbeat (like the worship of dogs), and some just politics. The OSI asked me to attend this function and insisted I take my camera and shoot a few rolls of film.
I made arrangements to ride down on the bus the movement had chartered, along with the Oxford Student and a few other GIs from RAF Upper Heyford and RAF Creighton, a neighboring base. Daisy wanted to go to, so she took a train and met us at Speaker's Corner. She brought all five children with her. We should have known this would attract attention, but the thought never crossed our minds.
When we joined the groups at Speakers Corner we walked through, saying nothing. On the way through a newspaper reporter from the Daily Worker, England's communist newspaper, took pictures of my family and tried to interview me. I gave some non-committal answer and followed the group to the place where the "concert" was to be held.
The concert turned out to be an anti Viet Nam war rally at which several celebrities, including Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave were present. I took a couple of 36-exposure rolls of film, of the entertainers on stage, the audience, and those milling around. During my latter shooting Vanessa Redgrave saw me and walked up to me with a pig mask on. She took it off and sneered. I took her photo, then asked her to put the mask on again so I could take another one. She did, then left. Back at the base I turned the film over to the OSI the following Monday morning.
By then the Daily Worker had published their edition, and there I was, along with Daisy and the kids, on the front page -- hailed as a model of American youth. The Special Agents of the OSI showed me the paper and made jokes about it. I started to get more nervous than usual.
On a Friday a week later the OSI called me into their office again. This time they showed me the developed pictures I had taken and asked me if I recognized them as mine. I looked through them and said yes, since there were some shots I took that were of unique subjects (such as Vanessa Redgrave in the pig mask on one roll and, and an attractive girl whose well shaped butt stretched her jeans to the limit on the other). I did this so I would remember those shots and be able to recognize my film. The Special Agents asked me if I recognized anyone else in the pictures, and I said no. Then they showed me an enlargement of one of my audience shots. They pointed out the circled the image of one man and asked if I knew him. I said I'd never seen him before and didn't even know who was in the shot.
They were pleased that I got that picture. The man was an attorney named Captain Culver, who worked in a base legal office at one of the other stations. The OSI had kept him under surveillance for several years due to his activities while he was stationed in Viet Nam. He served three consecutive years there (instead of the mandatory one), and while there lived off base with a Vietnamese prostitute who was a known Viet Cong agent. Although the OSI never gathered enough proof for a Courts Martial, they were certain that Culver had been passing troop movement, and other classified information through that woman to North Viet Nam. He had submitted his resignation from the Air Force and would be released from active duty in a few days. They wanted to arrest him for something before then, even if it was only for attending an illegal demonstration. The agents asked me if I would testify against Culver if he were courts marshaled. I said I needed to think about it, but if I did I would need to be reassigned to another base quickly since by testifying I would be putting my life, as well as the lives of my wife and children, in danger from people like Razor. They told me that if I would agree to testify they would see to it that immediately after my appearance in court I would be shipped to a new base. They said I could go anywhere I wanted as long as there was an opening there. I said either Scotland or Greece, but I'd still have to think about it and let them know Monday.
That week-end I told Daisy what had happened. Saturday night David, a friend who had been attending our Second Saturday Services showed up. David was a British attorney who lived and worked in London. Without letting him know why, I asked him if he happened to know Captain Culver, and David said he had met him once at an international party in London. He told me that he didn't like Culver-- that the man had bragged about how, as a prosecutor in Viet Nam, he had pushed for conviction and maximum sentencing of enlisted men who were doing nothing more than what he did off base.
After David left I told Daisy that I'd decided to testify. She said, "OK, I'll start packing." Monday I told Green and Jones that I would testify. They told me they'd already checked and there was no place to assign me in Scotland, but I could go to the 7206 Combat Support Group at Athena Airport, Athens, Greece if I wanted to. I said, "Make the arrangements." They did. I was scheduled to testify a few days later. On the morning of the day I was to testify a motor pool driver picked me up and delivered me to the base about 40 miles away where the courts martial was being conducted. I was instructed to check into transit quarters, then report to the base legal office. In the lobby of the legal office were several scruffy looking civilian spectators wearing T-shirts with a clenched fist stenciled on them. After I reported in the secretary told me to take a seat in the lobby. I sat and watched the civilians, and kept my mouth shut. A few minutes later the prosecuting attorney came out and asked me to come inside.
He apologized for the secretary's screw up and chastised her for making me stay outside with potential trouble makers. She apologized to me. The prosecuting attorney asked me numerous questions similar to those that would be asked during my testimony. Then he allowed the defense attorney and Culver to see me in private and do the same thing. After they were finished I waited in the prosecutor's office until I was called as a witness.
After I took the stand and repeated the oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, the prosecutor asked me if I had attended the demonstration, why I attended the demonstration, did I take photographs, were those my photographs, and could I identify Captain Culver in the photographs. I answered all questions simply and as completely as possible, and identified Culver in the appropriate picture. When the defense attorney began his cross examination the first thing he did was try to throw doubt on my truthfulness by saying my oath was not valid because "you claim to be a 'witch' and don't believe in God." I responded that "witch" was a term I did not like and did not apply to myself and that I recognized God as having both a Masculine and Feminine side which I called God and Goddess.
The reporters in the courtroom went into a scribbling frenzy and the judge had to order the room quiet.
Then the judge told me he didn't want to hear a lot of religious philosophy, he just wanted to know if I considered my oath valid. I told him I did so, and he said "Fine. I accept that Sergeant Wilson, Continue."
The defense then showed me copies of my photographs and tried to get me to say that I couldn't remember taking specific shots. The judge then interrupted again and chastised the defense attorney telling him he knew very well all I needed to say was that those were the same group that I had photographed, not the exact pictures. The defense apologized and again tried to discredit my testimony. This time he took the picture I had taken of Vanessa Redgrave wearing the pig mask, showed it to me, and said. "This isn't Captain Culver, is it?"
"Do you know who it is, Sergeant Wilson?"
"Yes sir, that's Vanessa Redgrave."
"Not only is it not Captain Culver, but it's a very attractive young lady, isn't it?"
"That's opinion, sir." I replied.
The jury, judge, and spectators all laughed. The defense did not. The defense asked me a few more unimportant questions before I was dismissed.
I was told to remain on base in case I was needed the next day, but otherwise was free to go.
When I left the courtroom the reporters mobbed me, but I declined to comment any further. I went back to the transit quarters, changed into civilian clothing, and went to the NCO club where I guzzled enough beer to make me tipsy and keep me peeing all night.
The next morning I was informed that I wouldn't need to testify anymore and I could return to RAF Upper Heyford.The motor pool drove me back. In those two days the OSI had kept their promise -- my transfer orders were ready, signed by the highest ranking officer in Europe, my household goods had been packed and picked up, my clearance from the base had been accomplished for me, my travel pay and one-way commercial airline tickets from Heathrow International Airport, London to Atheni Airport, Athens were placed in my hand.
The OSI agents gave me a final debriefing, showed me that my testimony had made the front pages of every newspaper in England, most of them in Europe (including the Soviet Pravda, which ran a cropped version of the picture the Daily Worker had published and claimed to have spotted me as a spy at the demonstration), and some in the United States.
Special Agents Green and Jones wished me luck, told me to report to the OSI office in Athens for further protection if I felt I needed it, and told me that if the plane went down over communist territory I should observe everything I could and report it to U.S. intelligence. I think they thought that was a joke, because I certainly didn't want to be in a communist country especially at this point in my life.
As I was leaving Jones tried one more time. He laughed and said, "Wilson, we know you were the person who told those guys what evidence we had against them in that marijuana case. What can you tell us about it?"
"When does the statute of limitations run out on it?" I asked.
"Ask me then, and I'll tell you the same thing I said before." I laughed in return.
Two days later Daisy, my five children, and I got off an airplane at the International Airport in Athens, Greece. I was happy to be in a nice safe anti-Communist police state.
As soon as I reported in to the base I learned that the 7206th Combat Support Group had no idea that I was coming there, and they didn't like surprises.
I went to the base OSI office and told them who I was. They disclaimed any knowledge of my operations for the Investigations office back in England, and told me all they knew was what they saw in the newspapers, that I had attended an illegal demonstration.
I was feeling alone and betrayed.
1971 and 1972 are such a jumble in my mind that I really can't put this in a reasonable order. Regardless, no matter how I felt, it was still necessary to function and I attempted to do so as best I could. I thought this would be a new beginning for me -- that I had a chance to do something with my Air Force career. I was excited about that possibility.
Daisy, the kids, and I lived in a four star motel/hotel for the first two months of my assignment. The government paid for those accommodations, and we enjoyed it. It was within walking distance of the beach and we would go there nearly every afternoon after I returned from work.
I wanted to go back to work as a journalist in the Information Office. That was not to be. The authorities at RAF Upper Heyford had completely, and illegally, removed the records of my journalism specialty from my personnel file. My first assignment, much to my disappointment, was as a clerk in base publications -- probably the most boring job on base. Although I was a Staff Sergeant I was given menial work by the Technical Sergeant (only one stripe more) in charge of that section. I don't remember his name. I do remember some details about him. He had been assigned to Athenai Airport 14 years prior to my arrival and never left. He was planning to retire at that base. Like many others on base he had established inside connections to the system and had managed to get humanitarian extensions of his tour of duty because he was married to a Greek national. (GIs married to Americans or other nationalities were not allowed to extend their tour there or elsewhere except under unusual circumstances. I don't know why an exception was made for those married to Greeks.) Although I tried to do the best job possible for him, he was never happy with me.
After I had been there for two weeks the mail which had been sent to my address in England finally caught up with me. I found a note in my post office box to come to the counter. I did and was given a bag of mail -- literally hundreds of letters from people throughout the United States and England. This was my first experience with hate mail.
95% of those letters condemned me for my actions in England. People I had gone way out of my way to help over the previous five years wrote to tell me what a traitor I was and how much they hated me. Some of the letters threatened my life and the lives of my family. Frankly, I was shocked, horrified, and frightened. I took the threatening letters to the OSI. They told me there was nothing they could do, since the letters were from civilians. I'd just have to deal with it. I think this is when I started serious drinking.
Tim Zell of the Church of All Worlds and Green Egg wrote something like, "Joe, how could you. This is terrible. You could have gone down in history as an important founder of the pagan movement. Now you are nothing but a traitor." I wrote back that I didn't care what history said about me, that wasn't why I was involved with the Old Religion. I also told him my activities for the OSI were political, not religious. Another bloke claimed to have a newsletter and asked me to write a response since everyone was attacking me. I thanked him and did so. Big mistake. He sent my letter to Leo Martello who took it out of context and published it, along with a lot of my other writings, in a damning book with a title something like Satanism and Witchcraft. I should have sued him. I went to the lawyers on base and they told me I didn't have a case for libel (wrong), and didn't bother to tell me I could sue because he used my writing without my permission -- a violation of the copyright laws. When I found out what I could have done the statute of limitations had passed.
A month after I arrived on base my performance report from RAF Upper Heyford finally arrived in personnel. Although my supervisor in base publications had rated me average (a death blow as far as promotions were concerned) the base commander had intercepted the report and wrote his own comments. I wish I still had that document!
The Colonel contradicted the Staff Sergeant's ratings on every point and considered me an Outstanding NCO. His narrative was enough to convince Personnel at Athenai that I was telling the truth about my journalist specialty.
I showed that report to the base executive / administrative officer. Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on one's outlook) that man had recently been appointed Base Historian -- a job he knew nothing about and didn't want. He figured that since I had been a historian before I could do the job. He pulled some strings, my specialty and skill level were returned to me, and I was pulled out from under that bum in base publications and given my own office and a job as historian -- again reporting to the Commander.
This time I told them I needed more training than I had or I couldn't do the job. They arranged temporary duty assignments for me to go to Germany to be trained by the head people there. That helped.
By that time Daisy and I had found an apartment in Kalamaki and had moved from the hotel. Daisy and I both shared the booze I brought home. When our rations from the base ran out we drank the local brews, ouzo (a licorice tasting liquor that turns milky white in water.) and retzina -- a white wine that tastes like pine resin because of the kegs it's stored in. We consumed more than enough of all of it.
Daisy's housekeeping went from tolerably bad to terrible. I didn't think I wanted much from her. She didn't work outside the home. I wanted her to take care of and feed the kids. Keep the house so I could walk across the floor without stumbling. Make sure I had a clean uniform to wear to work. While I was with her she did keep the kids fed, and did wash my uniforms -- however over half of the time I'd have to iron them in the morning before going to work. Normally I couldn't find a clear spot to step into on the floor. A weeks worth of dirty dishes were usually piled in the sink. These are not exaggerations. While the kids were in school she would go out, to the local bars, or the base, meet people, drink, sometimes go to a hotel with a guy, sometimes bring one home, and have a good time. I think that her behavior was because she was beginning to resent me -- in spite of her love for me. I know I was beginning to resent her -- in spite of my love for her.
When I returned from my Temporary Duty Assignments to Germany (which were never more than three or four days at a time) I found the apartment to be spotless, even when I arrived home unannounced. Apparently my presence was enough to keep her from doing any housework. I know I didn't make most of the mess -- five children under 10 years old are enough to make a big mess all by themselves! The first history I wrote at Athenai Airport was barely adequate. The second one, however, gained me a certificate of accomplishment for the most improved history in Unites States Air Forces in Europe. That was my one plus there. My third one got researched, but never completely written. My emotions were getting the best of me. I felt like I was being watched. Based on the evidence I discovered later I really don't think this was paranoia. I'll get to that.
Spiritually my practices were being influenced by the land I lived on. I found myself drawn to the God and Goddess symbols of ancient Greek myth. I discovered that Gaea literally means Earth Mother. Helios literally means Sun. Uranus literally means Sky. Zeus literally means God. Demeter literally means The Mother. ore literally means Maiden. And so forth. That which we thought of as being names of Gods were actually nothing more than words describing an aspect of nature. I had an insight and realization that our modern interpretation of Greek mythology is wrong -- the ancient Greeks merely used human symbol to depict the natural phenomena which they recognized as the embodiment of spirits or gods, much the same way American Indians recognize Earth Mother, Fire, Wind, Eagle, and so forth. This was an "Aha!" moment for me.
I developed some devotions, based upon this insight, which were satisfactory. I also concentrated on trying to understand more of the 1734 material that I had gathered from Norman. On his suggestion I did a ceremony to invoke Roy Bower's spirit in order to communicate and learn more. My oldest daughter, Marian Sue (who was ten or eleven at the time), assisted me, since Daisy refused to have anything to do with it and went to sleep in the bedroom. During the ceremony the room Marian and I were working in turned icy cold. At a crucial point Daisy began screaming hysterically from the bedroom, came out into the hallway talking what sounded like nonsense words. If it was a language it was something I had never heard before. Marian Sue became extremely frightened. I did a banishing, which calmed Daisy down, and closed down the circle. Marian was too frightened to ever try to help me in something like that again. I didn't gain any useful information.
Sometime in early 1972 I bought a mimeograph machine, wrote and duplicated an outline, a few basic instructions, and a reading list, and placed a classified advertised a free witchcraft correspondence course in Fate magazine. I don't remember how many people responded, probably in the neighborhood of 50.To those I sent my prepared material, and encouraged them to develop their own ceremonies devoted to whatever mythology they were most drawn to and suggesting they could use the Pagan Way material as an outline. I soon added Paul Hudson's Mastering Witchcraft to the list. When Llewellyn Publications published Lady Sheba's Book of Shadows I added that to my recommended reading list as an additional source for ceremony outlines. I recognized the author, Jesse Wicker Bell, as being one of the seekers I had corresponded with and referred to others in the mid 60s, and the material as being from the Gardnerian tradition. I found it amusing that Jesse had gone from knowing absolutely nothing about the Craft to being a "hereditary witch initiated by her grandmother" in such a few short years.
In the summer of that year I began to feel as though I was becoming more and more paranoid. Things in general were going wrong and I couldn't seem to control them. I went to the base hospital and got a prescription for Librium for my nerves, and tried to return to work. However in August, without warning, the security police picked me up at my office and escorted me to the base hospital. From there I was escorted to a medical aircraft and flown to a base in Turkey to be evaluated by a psychiatrist. He informed me that a complaint had been lodged against me by a Greek national who claimed that I was doing weird Satanic ceremonies in my office. I explained to him what had gone on, gave him the same Jungian talk I gave the psychiatrist in England, and was released back to duty with a relatively clean bill of health.
Shortly after I returned to work, further things happened to put me under pressure. A couple of weeks later I got a telephone call at home from the Chief of Security Police. He said there was some kind of emergency and asked me to return to my office. When I got there I found him, the Deputy Base Commander, and an OSI agent waiting for me. The Deputy Base Commander claimed that he was walking by my office, looked in and saw the sign on my safe, which contained classified information about the group's mission, reading OPEN, checked it and found it unlocked. I was certain that I had locked the safe before leaving that day. The Chief of Security Police and the OSI agent both confirmed that the safe was unlocked when they got there. It's important to note that the Deputy Base Commander was the only person on base other than myself who had the combination to that safe. He wanted a complete inventory of the classified information, but would not allow me to do the inventory. If any of certain documents were found to be missing I could be Courts Marshaled and sentenced for up to 20 years in federal prison.
Fortunately they didn't "find" anything missing. He removed my access to my classified source material, then ordered me to write the history anyway, under the supervision of the administrative officer. If I needed to look at a document I was to tell Captain so and so what that documents was, he would go get it, bring it back, watch me read it, then take it away while I wrote. This was an impossible situation. I felt like I was being set up for something by the authorities on base, I didn't know what, but I was sure it wouldn't be pleasant. My nerves were shot. I went back to the hospital and got stronger prescriptions for Librium, which didn't seem to help even when I was taking 50mg every two hours. During those few days I became so anxious that my hands sweat so bad that I couldn't accomplish anything. In the doctors office I would pick up a tissue to dry my hands and literally be able to wring water out of it almost immediately.
A few days later I snapped. I'd drunk heavily the night before, got up early and went in to the base cafeteria. There I had a hangover cure breakfast of steak and eggs, hash browns, toast, and alternating cups of black coffee and tall glasses of ice water. At 6:30 AM the Stars and Stripes Book Store, adjacent to the cafeteria, opened and I went in and bought the new Playboy. When I returned to my table I couldn't concentrate on it and began rapidly flipping through it. A friend of mine who worked as a medical technician at the base hospital came and sat with me and tried to calm me down. I laughed at him, said I was OK, and began tearing pages out of the magazine and handing them to him, and to others who were near. I started shaking uncontrollably. He tried to touch me to calm me down, but I shook him off. I told him I had to go to work and write that history or they would put me in jail. He told me I was in no condition to go to work. I insisted. He went and telephoned the hospital, and a few minutes later two men in white coats and two security policemen came and carried me to the emergency room where I was injected with a heavy dose of thorazine, then admitted as an inpatient.
During the few days there before being transferred to a psychiatric ward in Turkey I had time to think, though I'm not sure how clear my thinking was since they kept injecting me with thorazine and supplementing those injections with pills of some kind.
One of the Greek National male nurses told me that he heard I was a witch and wondered if I could help him get in touch with his recently deceased father. I thought it would be an interesting experiment, and if nothing else kind of amusing, so, with his help, we arranged to do a séance type ceremony in the ward the night before I was transferred to turkey. I had Daisy bring in some candles, incense and an incense burner, one of my crystal balls, a plaster human skull, and my athame. All of these things were kept in the nurses station until the time we planned to do the ceremony.
I insisted that everyone on the ward, nurses, technicians, and patients, be a part of the circle "so they would be protected from the spirits invoked". I hammed it up, making up things as I went along, and being generally mysterious and dramatic. At the end of the ceremony I gave a brief psychic reading to each of the 16 people in the circle. Actually for something I thought I was doing mostly as a joke, it turned out rather well.
That male nurse claimed to get the message he was looking for from his father. Regardless I'm sure this bizarre behavior on my part was entered into my medical records!
After it was over I was allowed to keep the crystal ball and plaster skull with me, but they sent everything else home with Daisy. I spent two weeks in the psychiatric ward in Turkey. During that time I was observed, evaluated, and tested with about every psychological test they had available.
The psychiatrist I saw happened to hate the Air Force, since he was drafted away from a decent private practice in the US. He seemed to understand why I appeared to have what I called a "nervous breakdown", and he called "anxiety neurosis." He asked me if I wanted to stay in the Air Force or get out. I told him that I was afraid to do either -- the only way I knew to make a living was in the Air Force, but if I stayed it looked like they were going to Courts Martial me for something. He agreed, then told me that he was going to recommend me for a service connected disability retirement. He told me I'd be admitted to a hospital for a couple of months while the process went on, but that I was to refuse medication because there was no telling what I would be given. I remembered and followed his instructions.
He sent me back to Athenai Airport with instructions to wait for soon to come orders. I was relieved of duty and assigned as a patient in the hospital, though allowed to go home at night.
A few days after I got back to Athenai Airport two security policemen met me in the hospital and escorted me to the OSI office. There the agents asked me some vague questions, and my response was to demand to know what the questioning was about. At that time they read me my rights under Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (equivalent to the Miranda reading) told me I was suspected of smuggling three kilos of hashish and 20,000 hits of LSD into Greece from Turkey, and informed me that they were getting a warrant and going to search my home. I immediately demanded to see a lawyer. I was escorted to the Staff Judge Advocate's office and was immediately assigned an attorney. I told him what had been going on, and said that I didn't trust the OSI. I said they could search my house, but I wanted the lawyer with them and me as a witness. He agreed that was a good idea and informed the OSI that he and another attorney would accompany them when they went to search my premises. They didn't look pleased at that, but had no choice but to agree.
Naturally, with the agents being watched, the search of my home turned up nothing. I was released. A few days after that I got my orders to report to an Air Force hospital in Dallas, Texas for observation, evaluation, board hearing, and possible discharge or retirement. Daisy and the kids were to follow. I left on a medical evacuation flight, and friends helped Daisy finalize our affairs in Athens. She and the kids went to St. Louis, Missouri where they stayed with one of my students for a time, then rented an old farm house on Old Green Park Road in Affton.
I was in the hospital for a couple of months before I finally decided to find out what was taking so long. Right after Christmas I got a pass to leave the hospital and went to the patient squadron orderly room. The clerk in there informed me that my disability retirement had passed the board, but that there was an OSI hold on me because I was under investigation.
I lost my temper. I told him those sons-of-bitches had me under investigation for to damn long, and that they had better charge me with some specific crime or release me. Then I went to the base legal office, talked to a lawyer, and told him the same thing. He agreed and said he'd take care of it.
I still had a few hours left on my pass so I went to the NCO club and sat at the bar until I ran out of money, staggered back to the hospital ward, made a fuss, and was immediately confined to a padded room and strapped to the bed. The orderlies laughed at me when I told them to let me up so I could go piss. That made me angrier. I broke the leather restraining straps that held my arms and legs down, then used the bed to smash through the two inch thick oak door that held me. After I urinated the orderlies let me go to my own bed, upon my promise that I wouldn't hurt them.
Right after the first of the year 1973 I was released from the hospital, charged $250 for the door and $50 for the restraining straps I broke, and sent home to Daisy and the kids while I awaited my final discharge and retirement papers. They arrived a few weeks later. My official retirement date was February 2nd, 1973.
So much happened in 1973 that it's hard for me to put it all together. Portions of it are extremely painful and I find myself trying to avoid writing about it. In order to cover that year I'm going to have to write sketchy sections and fill in details later. As I have been thinking about this section I remember some details that should have been included in earlier parts of this autobiography. Those I will note, so that I can properly expand and edit later. For this draft I will concentrate on the magical religious aspects of my life as much as I can, and leave the personal details sketchy.
The first half of the year was chaos.
Without the restrictions of military life my patience with everything and relationship with Daisy deteriorated rapidly. We were both filled with conflict, and tried in various ways to keep our marriage together while at the same time doing things that hurt each other. We did attempt a polyandrous relationship with Sandra Wills and her former husband, the student Daisy and the kids stayed with their first couple of months back in the States. This turned into a disaster, though it was better than our earlier experiences.
Sandra loaned me an IBM Selectric typewriter and I continued to correspond with some of the people who had been students. I also published another series of newsletters related to that course, wrote a few small articles for local papers for some money, and wrote and sold the only short story I've ever finished. One couple, Marja and Bill Bahr of Memphis, Tennessee, invited me to come and stay with them for a while. I did on three occasions.
I met Tim Zell and attended one of the CAW gatherings. I found it interesting, but felt like an outsider.
My relationship with Ruth Wynn-Owen, which was strained while I was in England. (I must go back and fill in those details). Deteriorated. I had felt that Plant Bran was a deeply engrained part of my own personal spiritual experience. Ruth had told me that I could share the prayers and such with others, and I did so. This turned out to be a misunderstanding between us which turned into a major problem. Apparently by sharing she had meant something different than I interpreted. I had given a few of the prayers from Plant Bran to some people whom I thought were serious and in need enough. They in turn wrote to her, quoted parts of them, and claimed them as their own, "passed down in the family for generations." Ruth was furious with me and I was never able to heal that wound.
During one of my visits to Tennessee Daisy became angry with me and burned all of the letters and other material I had from Ruth, plus most of the other letters and written material I had saved, including the original "1734" letters and other material I had from Roy Bowers. Fortunately I had made copies of that and had those copies with me.
When I wrote to Ruth and told her about it she responded by writing "It's a good thing."
Carl Weschcke, of Llewellyn Publications, had planned a major Pagan event in the St. Paul area that summer. Since I couldn't afford to attend I wrote to those on my own mailing list and suggested that, since I had 5 acres they could camp on, we hold our own. A few liked the idea and we began plans for it, but I later cancelled the event when I left Daisy.
That separation, and the events that lead to it, was traumatic for everyone. In my screwed up mental condition, magnified by my misuse of alcohol, our arguments often deteriorated into fights which became physical. More than once I horrified myself by hitting her so hard she had black and blue marks on her face. I was out of control and ashamed. In my last two days with her I wrote a long letter to my mother. I don't remember what was in that letter. As I was getting ready to mail it Daisy saw it and insisted on opening and reading it. I told her if she did that our marriage was over, there was no sense in trying anymore. Inside I was afraid that if I lost my temper again I would hurt her so bad I killed her. She angrily insisted that she was going to read it, and anything else that went out of the house.
She ripped open the envelope, and this time, instead of hitting her, I went in the house, got my clothing and personal belongings, and packed them into the car while she was reading the letter. She finished reading it about the time I finished packing. She begged me to stay. I don't remember what I told her, other than no, and that she could sign and cash my monthly retirement check as child support. I called my children and told them I loved them but I couldn't live with their mother any more. I kissed them all goodbye and tearfully drove away.
I didn't stop crying until I reached the Michigan border.
My stay in Michigan was relatively brief. I lived with my mother. My brother, who had been discharged from the army under less than honorable conditions after having been convicted of selling heroin, also lived there. He used to take my car without permission and disappear for hours. I was afraid he'd get arrested and my car would be impounded. I was also afraid he'd wreck the car, like he had several others.
Sometime that summer contact with Bill & Helen Mohs was reestablished. I really don't remember how. Bill invited me to come to California, and so, on October 1st, 1973 I packed my 1961 Volkswagen, withdrew every penny I had from the bank (under $200), and began the trip to Los Angeles at 11:00 AM. Five days later, sometime between 3:00 and 4:00 AM I knocked on Bill and Helen's door in Temple City. Much to my relief they welcomed me with open arms.
We had years to catch up on. We talked nonstop until Bill had to leave for work, then, with Bill's encouragement, Helen and I went to bed and reestablished our sexual relationship between bouts of sleep while he was gone. They invited me to share there bed as long as I stayed with them.
During the years since I last saw them Bill and Helen had worked hard to develop their circle. They told me their ultimate goal was to invoke Pan to visible and physical appearance, and they though that this could best be done with a special circle of six specially selected couples performing sex magic rites as a part of the invocation. They were actively, and unsuccessfully, in search of people who would be a part of that inner circle.
They had learned and accumulated a great deal since I last saw them in 1968. Now they had an extensive set of ceremonies and rituals, dedicated to the Goddess and God in their guise as Aphrodite and Pan, which they had put together with the help of a man who claimed to be the head of "The Temple of the Dark Lord". His approach was pretty dark. He claimed not to be a Satanist -- that Satan was just a minor demon in his pantheon. I didn't like him. Although he had helped Bill and Helen write their ceremonies and rituals, and those rites contained elements obviously derived from ceremonial magic traditions, as well as other published material, they did not appear to be contaminated with that guy's dark philosophy.
While I stayed with them I attended Bill and Helen's circles, and assisted in some initiations, including that of Ann and Van Tipton who lived in San Bernardino at the time. It was an interesting experience. I thought I got along well with those two, and Van and I had some long talks. I learned from him that he also claimed a medical retirement from government service – except that he had been a CIA agent. I learned that while with "The Company" he had been part of the illegal CIA operations in the United States.
There was a period of several years of his life that he simply could not remember, even under deep hypnosis. Those years had, apparently, been erased by The Company. Some months later Ann and Van traveled to New York where they were initiated into the Gardnerian tradition and became authorized to establish that lineage in Southern California. Afterwards they became very secretive and mysterious and had little to do with anyone outside of the Gardnerian path, including Bill and Helen. I accepted the situation as more political silliness. Both Bill and Helen told me they were puzzled about being shunned all of a sudden.
I immediately recognized that the "secret teachings" Bill and Helen gave their initiates were plagiarized almost word for word from the "Art and Practice" series by Ophiel, available from Llewellyn Publications.
I was pleased to see that Helen had learned to be a skilled ritualist. Her theatrics, chanting and invocations were extremely well done. I cannot judge her magical results. Their personal relationship was nearly as stormy as mine had been with Daisy. Helen was constantly nagging Bill in a grating high pitched voice. Bill was constantly arguing back. I was in the middle and disliked the stress, but didn't quite know what to do. The solution came shortly.
I met Mara Schaeffer at one of Bill and Helen's circles the first month I was there.
She was 27 years old and the spoiled only child of an upper middle class family. Her father had paid for her college education, and allowed her to cram a four year degree into eight years. She bragged to me that the only reason she finally got her bachelors degree is because she accidentally got enough credits in philosophy to finally have a major! She worked as a teachers assistant at a special education school in North Hollywood. After her Volkswagen died, her father bought her a new Pinto station wagon so she would have something to get around in. He also furnished her with gasoline company credit cards and paid all of those bills.
Mara was not an initiate. She had previously been studying with Sara Cunningham, a woman who operated an occult shop and claimed to be a Celtic Witch. A review of the material Mara showed me let me know that what Sara called "witchcraft", and charged $10 per lesson to teach, was primarily Golden Dawn Qabalah, learned in part from books, and in part from a prior administrative association with Israel Regardi. In spite of her fraud, Sara had a loyal following that appeared to hang on every word she said. She was an excellent showman. She had recently moved to the Grants Pass, Oregon area with the intent of forming a commune with and for her followers.
Mara was attending Bill and Helen's meetings in search of another group with which to supplement her involvement with Sara.
Mara and I had a mutual sexual attraction, and a week or so later I asked her to invite me over for one of her home cooked vegetarian meals. She did so. I went to her house in Tujunga, a small rental no larger than an efficiency apartment, on a Friday afternoon and didn't return until Sunday night. We had a delightful time, talking Craft, wandering in the foothills north of Los Angeles, and making love.
Mara invited me to move in with her, so when I returned to Bill and Helen's Sunday evening it was just to pack up the few belongings I had left there.
The next couple of months were a whirlwind of so many activities and meeting so many people I can't remember everything that happened or what order it happened in.
Mara wanted to be initiated, but her background with Sara had given her conceptions about the Craft that were foreign to me. I showed her the 1734 material and she applied herself to studying and absorbing it. Since she wanted a ceremonial initiation, and since there was none in that tradition, I wrote one using 1734 terminology and based somewhat on my past experiences. In England, Norman Giles had taught me how to transfer the power of the different Gods from myself to another so I included that as a part of the ceremony.
We met, and struck up a friendship with, Carroll (Poke) Runyon, founder of the Church of Hermetic Sciences and Ordo Templi Astartes, a Qabalistic lodge which performs ceremonial magic based upon the Goetia. I had corresponded with Poke when I was in Greece.
I also finally met Dr. Theobold Mordey, a psychologist that had been one of my correspondence students when I was in Greece. It was the events leading to this meeting that started to make me think that Mara and I might not be as compatible as I hoped. I'd made arrangements for us to visit him at 2 PM one Saturday. Theo lives in Thousand Oaks, a long drive from Tujunga. Somehow Mara had misunderstood and thought he lived in Sherman Oaks, which is less than half that distance away. On the day we were to go there Mara didn't start getting ready until the time I thought we should leave. She insisted we had plenty of time, and that no one in Southern California was ever on time anyway, so it didn't matter. When I offered to show her on a map where we were going, she refused to look at it stating that she knew where we were going. It was only after she drove us to Sherman Oaks that she finally agreed to look at the map, and realized her misunderstanding.
We finally arrived at Theo's house over two hours late. Although timeliness has always been important to me, due to my military training, our tardiness was not the major problem that I felt. When she told the story of our misadventure to Theo it was so filled with additions and exaggerations that I couldn't recognize the events. I thought she was talking about a completely different event.
In November 1973, over the Thanksgiving holiday, Mara and I went on a trip to visit Sara in Oregon. On the way we stopped at Tom DeLong's "Gwyddion's" house in Oakland. (Much to his discomfort I refused to call him by his SCA name, which I thought was silly pretense.
Everybody else called him by it, and I eventually started to do so. )
The first night we were there a group of about 30 people including Tom, Allison Harlow, Adian Kelly, Isaac Bonewits and several others who had become fairly well known and many others I didn't know even by correspondence, conducted a joyful ceremony there at the Oakland house. Some were robed, some wore street clothes, and some (including myself) wore nothing. We danced, made prayers and invocations, and made real magic of the kind that brought an electric loving feeling to the circle.
Suddenly, as we were dancing a circle dance someone pulled me out of the line and pushed me to the center of the circle and they continued dancing, chanting a healing chant and directing the energy towards me. I was thrilled, embarrassed, and felt absolutely wonderful. After the dancing wound down everyone came to me, one by one, and hugged and kissed me, either on the cheek or lightly on the lips, and blessed me. I truly felt blessed. Tom came to me last and as he hugged me whispered in my ear, "Now it's up to you."
After the circle Tom, Mara, a blonde woman I didn't know, and two or three others sat in one of the rooms talking about various things having to do with magic, the future of the Craft, the spread of paganism, and many other things. I sat on a cot next to the blonde who was as naked as me, Mara and one other. Tom told us about his plans to get some land, which he had already chosen, and form Coeiden Brith, a retreat for those of the old religion, and a sort of a commune. He planned to raise grapes and invited us all to participate. As he talked he had his arm around Mara and was caressing her lightly as she responded and lay her head on his shoulder. I took a cue from that and did the same with the blonde, eventually laying back and holding her as we all talked, though we did not become more intimate than that. It grew late, we were all exhausted, so all went to our beds and to sleep.
The following morning when I awoke I discovered that Mara was already up, and I stumbled out of bed and went up to the kitchen to see if there was any coffee. The blonde was there and had just finished making a pot, so we sat at the table, still naked, and drank coffee and talked small talk. Mara was no where around.
After coffee we went our separate ways, got dressed, and I came back and found Tom awake. We drank coffee together and talked about his plans for Coeiden Brith and he strongly encouraged me to move from Los Angeles right away and become a part of it. I told him I'd think seriously about it. In fact I very strongly wanted to, but didn't want to leave Mara. He looked me in the eyes and said, "Be very careful. Things are not what you hope with her."
I looked around the house for Mara and didn't find her, then went into the front yard and saw that her car was gone. I was confused, of course.
To Be Continued
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