Tuesday, February 11, 2020

"Cultists" at the Cafe

The always-sensationalistic Daily Mail has an article up today about a woman name Anya Driscoll who went to use the toilet at a vegan cafe in south London and encountered a meeting of "Satanic cult members" on the way. The alleged cultists were, horror of horrors, eating brunch. But Driscoll knew they were cultists because they were wearing robes and a couple of them had ceremonial daggers.

Anya Driscoll, who works as a copywriter, was dining with her brother at the Bonnington Cafe in Vauxhall on Saturday when she ventured to the toilet and came across the meeting of 20 people in floor-length black robes with ceremonial daggers eating pork pies.

After taking to Twitter to share her story, she discovered it was likely a meeting of Order of Oriental Templars, or OTO - a group which was brought to Britain in the early 20th century by infamous occultist Aleister Crowley, who was widely believed to be a satanist, and was dubbed 'the wickedest man in the world'.

Anya told how she was enjoying her mid-morning meal when her brother went to the toilet and came back urging her to find the bathroom. 'He won't tell me what's up, so - suspecting I'm going to look at some really bad art about veganism - I go,' she wrote.

'I was so wrong. I step through a signposted door that takes me into the terraced building next door. The toilet is apparently on the third floor... It feels I'm walking up the stairs in a private home. At the top of the first flight of stairs is a landing room.

'It appears to be a kitchen. On a table, a Classic British buffet of scotch eggs, breadsticks, cheese etc is laid out. The room is full. A party! Except... All the people - and there are at least 20 of them - are wearing floor-length black robes. Some have ceremonial daggers. They're making polite conversation and chomping on mini pork pies. It's like Eyes Wide Shut meets Keeping Up Appearances.'


Anya added that she tapped one of the alleged 'cult members' on the shoulder, and he pointed her in the direction of the toilet. She continued: 'He points up more stairs, and I awkwardly push past polite shrouded members until I reach a completely normal toilet. On the way back, someone announces it's time "to begin" and they start shuffling into another room.'

First off, what I love about this story is how all that these scary "Satanic cult members" actually did was politely direct Driscoll to the toilet. It's almost like a comedy skit. I could easily imagine Monty Python doing something like this, with the joke being "cult members" in robes milling around, eating breakfast, and basically being completely normal and polite about everything. That has the potential to be pretty hilarious.

Second, I'm not actually sure this was an OTO meeting. I don't necessarily know how it's done in the UK, but in the states we don't wear our ceremonial robes in any public setting. I find it hard to believe they would be doing a private ritual at a cafe where people looking for the toilet might wander past, but I suppose sometimes good rental spaces can be hard to find. And maybe the place just had a really good brunch.

The article also includes a bunch of information, much of it false, about Aleister Crowley, OTO, and various celebrities who have been named (usually incorrectly) as members. But I do appreciate that they spoke with an actual representative of the order about what our organization does and believes. That's usually more than the Daily Mail ever manages to do, since they seem to have a real hate-on for anything even somewhat related to Crowley.

Here's the point, though. Whether these were OTO members or not, this is basically what occultists are like in the real world. Some of us walk around in weird outfits from time-to-time, but aside from that we're not actually all that different from everybody else. We certainly don't pose a danger to someone who's just looking for the toilet.

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