Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Another Satanic Panic Source

As I have covered previously here on Augoeides, the "Satanic Panic" of the 1980's and early 1990's largely originated from porn. This is why so many of the things "Satanists" were accused of aren't real techiques of magick or occultism, and why magicians looking into those claims don't understand how their alleged rituals even worked. They didn't, because real magick had nothing to do with the panic. It was all about fabricating accounts and accusations based on material presented in "Satanic pornography" from the 1970's.

The New Yorker has an article up that explores yet another piece of the puzzle that I previously knew nothing about, a Mormon housewife named Beatrice Sparks. Sparks was a literary fraud, kind of like James Frey and other recent authors who have passed off made-up stories as memoirs or factual accounts. The New Yorker article is a review of a recent book by Rick Emerson that discusses Sparks' work.

Sparks published a book called Go Ask Alice in 1971. Sparks claimed that the book was a real diary kept by a teenage girl and that she merely "edited" the text. The book was presented this way to the media and, of course, became a huge bestseller - because the market rewarding writers for fraud is practically a cliche. At any rate, the book tells the story of a young girl's descent into horrific drug addiction and ends with an author's note describing her alleged death by either suicide or accidental overdose.

Go Ask Alice provided fuel for the drug war of the 1970s, as it implied that the lurid and exaggerated events of the book were "what the kids were up to" or something like that. It was Sparks' next project, though, where this story moves into Augoeides territory. Sparks was contacted by a family who wanted her to edit and publish their son's diary, who had died by suicide at the age of sixteen.

A few months later, Sparks was back in the diary business with “Jay’s Journal.” She claimed, in the book’s introduction, that a woman had read an article about her and then called to ask if Sparks might take the journal of her son—a deceased sixteen-year-old who’d had a genius-level I.Q.—and use it to expose the dangers of witchcraft. Accepting this solemn task, Sparks sorted through the boy’s possessions, interviewed his friends and teachers, and organized his journal into more than two hundred entries. A small disclaimer on the copyright page indicated that “times, places, names, and some details have been changed to protect the privacy and identity of Jay’s family and friends.”

In fact, such changes—the boy’s home town, Pleasant Grove, became Apple Hill; a local restaurant, the Purple Turtle, became the Blue Moo—functioned like bread crumbs for those who wished to track down the book’s real setting and characters. Jay, they learned, was actually Alden Barrett, and nearly two decades after “Jay’s Journal” was released his younger brother Scott self-published an account of Alden’s life and the events surrounding his suicide. His book, “A Place in the Sun,” portrays his brother as an aspiring poet who excelled at debate but suffered from depression. It also reproduces images and transcripts of all the entries in Alden’s actual diary; according to Scott, Sparks drew on only about a third of them, fabricating nearly ninety per cent of what she published, including entries about how, after being sent to reform school, Jay learned to levitate objects, developed E.S.P., attended midnight orgies, and was possessed by a demon named Raul.

Alden’s diary does not mention the occult, and, according to Scott, although his brother smoked pot, studied Hinduism, and played with a Ouija board, his real transgressions were rebelling against the family’s Mormon faith and opposing the Vietnam War. And yet Sparks portrayed him as part of a network of cattle mutilators who drained some three thousand cows of their blood in twenty-two states. There were other preposterous revisions, including a wedding that she renders as a demonic Mass featuring black candles, bloodletting, and a kitten sacrifice but in reality was a quiet, unofficial ceremony between Alden and his high-school girlfriend.

And once again, we see accounts of things that occultists don't actually do. We don't go around levitating things because real magick is nothing like Harry Potter and a simple levio-SAH doesn't cut it in the real world. We don't mutilate cattle and we don't sacrifice kittens, because there's absolutely no point in doing either from a magical perspective. And it's entirely possible to face suicidal depression without it having anything to do with demons, especially one named Raul. Raul? Seriously?

Sparks clearly got her material on occultism from porn, either first or second hand. Her book sold well, though, and likely put those accounts into the hands of people who knew nothing about "Satanic" porn and assumed it was real. The final piece of the "perfect storm" that created the panic would then be Lawrence Pazder's Michelle Remembers published in 1980, which provided an explanation for why there were no real accounts from people involved in this fake occultism - Satanic cults could erase memories!

The point here is the one I keep making. If there are ever questions, legal or otherwise, about magick and/or occultism, the people to ask about it are actual magicians. Magick is a technology and it works a certain way. Most people just have no idea what that way is, and can easily confuse made-up nonsense for real practices. The last person to ask would be a conservative Christian, whose knowledge of occultism comes from porn or horror movies or who knows where else. All they really care about is how evil it's supposed to be, and whether or not any of it is real is beside the point.

It's also crucial to understand that the panic never really went away. QAnon conspirators are keeping alive this notion of "Satanic occultists" who are, of course, their political enemies. In the real world there's no reason to hold "Satanic rituals" where children are tortured for "adrenochrome" - which is oxidated epinephrine that you can literally order from Amazon instead of going through all that kidnapping and ritual nonsense. Real magicians are smart, and we totally would just order from Amazon.

Magick needs to come out of the shadows so people who don't practice can know enough about it to understand how silly and bizarre these sorts of claims are. That's what I mean when I talk about "exotercism." Nobody thinks your car mechanic is stealing your engine oil and drinking it to get high or whatever, because even people who don't work on cars understand that such a thing is flat-out ludicrous. General magical literacy could accomplish the same thing and prevent current conspiracy theories from evolving into a brand new panic.

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