CAVETE: discusses and links to occult issues, including the desecration of a church
Many years ago, I was introduced to a poor woman who believed she'd been cursed. Working in Kenya, she'd been targeted by a nasty piece of work who'd stolen an item of her underwear at that time of the month and performed a ritual that had involved desecrating a grave, then demanded money from her. I tried to persuade her that by buying into what this chap was saying she'd effectively cursed herself. In medicine it's known as the sinister side of the placebo effect, which has been christened the "nocebo effect" (from the Latin for "I will harm") - essentially, belief that you're doomed dooms you, the principle that fuels voodoo.
The reason that this is on my mind is a very concerning article by the Cambridge News' Raymond Brown about a self-styled occultist who claims to have raised a demon in a Roman Catholic Church in Cambridge with the intent that it "could possess parishioners and drive them to suicide."
Magus Lynius Shadee seems to be trying to get some free publicity about his plans to open an occult centre in Cambridge on December 24 (shortly after the shortest day of the year, or winter solstice, a time of year the mystic writer Dion Fortune claimed was linked to disordered forces). Personally, I don't think he's made many friends among responsible pagans in Cambridge who, according to About.com's Patti Wigington, aren't taking him seriously. However, messages on We're all neighbours - Cambridge Stuff's page on the story called Christianity a "cult" and Jesus and St John the Baptist "zombies".
Umbrage seemed to be taken at the suggestion of Fr David Paul of Our Lady and the English Martyrs, the targeted church (known as OLEM), that "People who go to these things often end up with mental problems". While not wishing to offend people who follow other faiths gratuitously, I would support his statement. Some pagans report experiences of transmitting and receiving thoughts, possession-states, seeing and communicating with spiritual beings and other phenomena that, regardless of whether they exist, are perceived by many people during episodes of mental illness. (Thought-broadcasting, thought insertion, dissociation states and visual and auditory hallucinations, respectively.)
Shadee goes by an interesting title - "The King of all the Witches". This title is also claimed by Kevin Carlyon, and was laid claim to by Alexander Sanders, who inspired the book What Witches Do, which seemed basically to be a vehicle for Sanders' disciple, Stewart Farrar, to publish pictures of Sanders' wife Maxine naked.
Sexuality in witchcraft is interesting. Wicca was revived by Gerald Gardner with Aleister Crowley's help in 1946, after a hiatus following the murder of "the old religion" by radical secularist (and patriarchalist) elements of the Enlightenment. Crowley's son, Amado, claimed that Gardner's motivation was to get into proximity to women in an environment where sex was likely. Sanders added a Freudian twist when he claimed to have been initiated into higher levels of "the Craft" by his grandmother with rituals involving incestuous sex. The cover of Gardner's novel, High Magic's Aid, shows a naked woman in the company of a dressed man, a recurrent theme of pornography; I would definitely add the risk of sexual exploitation of vulnerable people to Fr Paul's concerns.
So how did Shadee summon up his "elemental", if indeed he did any such thing? I don't know, but he states that he tends to work alone so, given the fixation of some sectors of paganism with matters sexual, the mind boggles. But any parishioner in OLEM or any other church who felt threatened might feel reassured after sitting and having a pray, or reading from Scripture - I like John 1:1-18; a word in the ear of the Blessed Virgin never goes amiss, and I'm sure clergypeople would be happy to speak to anybody who was worried. Matthew 18:20 tells us that we have a way to make Jesus present that is much more powerful than dodgy doings by a manipulative self-publicist.
CambridgePagans are represented on the Cambridge Inter-faith Group, which states on its homepage that "dialogue and co-operation can only exist if they are rooted in respectful relationships which do not blur or undermine the distinctiveness of different religious traditions", so I hope they will join representatives of other religions in denouncing Shadee's actions and monitoring his activities while in Cambridge.
Somebody calling themselves "Daniel" gives us an educational insight into what Shadee is known for when he pleads online for help from him in work "on a ritual format to manifest Hitler"; I would refer him to the Jewish Encyclopedia, specifically its advice (to Cabalists) who are tempted to work with dark forces "not to resort to any conjuration or magic practises, but to have perfect confidence only in prayer and in the power of God."