The Blood Libel -- Heidrick
The Blood Libel
by Bill Heidrick
Copyright © 1985 by Bill Heidrick
This editorial first appeared in The Magical Link, 10/31/85 e.v.
In the last few months, in the USA, an ancient evil has surfaced.
This is the infamy known as "the blood libel." The news media have
carried stories, and one major TV network has actually aired a
"documentary" on the quaint subject of Satanist child murder. Beyond the
fourth estate this curious piece of emotional arson has found true
believers among investigative agencies and citizens. Beloved Thelemites
and friends, George Santayana once wrote; "Those who do not remember the
past are condemned to relive it." Here is truth. Here is history.
Tens of thousands of children vanish in the world every year. Most
return. Some are found. Some are prostituted. Some are murdered. Some
are savaged. Many just leave home as my grandfather did at age 16. This
has been going on since there were human children in the world. The
numbers change with population and hard times; but like any seed there is
a loss in every generation. Care and nurturing can diminish that loss
statistically, but there is no way to protect all. There is no parent as
powerful as chance. With so precious a being as a child, reason cannot
balance what Nemesis has blindly taken. The parents of a lost child can
be compensated with purpose but never healed.
There are people who know no limits in their quest for power over
minds. There are people who deliberately use the grief of parents as an
unspeakable road to power. This is how they did it 2,000 years ago, and
how they are using it against good people now.
At the dawn of the last Aeon, there was a new Cult in the Roman
Empire. It consisted mostly of unlettered persons, of the poorer
classes. This Cult did not believe in much, just love (Agape) and the
teachings of a Magister Templi called Joshua. This Rabbi had told
stories and taught certain old precepts common to the philosophies of
Persia and Egypt. Perhaps he had worked wonders, but such things grow in
the telling. Mostly he ministered to the poor in the countryside near
the Lake of Tiberias.
There was political unrest in those times. Joshua was considered a
foreigner (Josephus is the only outside source about him, and in his
works the only reference is to: "an Egyptian"). The poor fellow got
carried away, became a scape goat for other rabble-rabbis and was
crucified. This was probably done as a warning to the public nuisances
of the day.
Joshua was thought very special by a dozen or so of his followers,
and they diverted their grief into a new mystery concerning his "dying
and conquering death". This led in a couple of generations to communial
meals and recitation of quotations from Joshua's more personal remarks on
similar occasions. One of these remarks may have had to do with the
blood-red color of wine and a macabre jest about the human sacrifices
still being occasionally performed by poor women in the near-by Vale of
Hinnom. Typically a lady found with child, and unmarried, had to get rid
of the baby fast. There was a death penalty for un-wed mothers in those
days. The valley called Hinnom was once a place of sacrifice to the
local Baal. Such women were allowed to expose their babies there. The
more disturbed would sometime kill the baby, perhaps as an act of
defiance to the god who made men immune to this particular problem.
Rebbi Joshua probably had some elaborate reference in mind and may have
missed the punch-line in his cups. The next day, he was arrested. After
the passage of some years, this remark came to be interpreted differently.
The Christian writers of the first 150 years refer increasingly to
the body and blood of their Jesus Christ (this is Greek for "Joshua the Messiah). In the earliest instances, this reference seems to imply
kinship with Rebbi Joshua, not any sort of ritual consumption of symbolic
flesh and blood under the guise of bread and wine. Pseudo Barnabus
(c.100 e.v.) wrote strongly against the sacrifice of animals and plants
common at the time.
By the second century, a very different public view of the actions
of the Christians had formed. Largely because of the lack of
participation in public sacrifices and an abstinance from meat (at least
meat such as was commonly sold in those times, being meat from the temple
abattoirs), the Christians were roundly denounced as Atheists. The
ancient governments used public acts of worship as an integral part of
the political system. Since these Christians tended to keep mostly to
themselves and to eschew sacrifice, they were held to be possible
traitors to the State. Some unfortunate things happened, notably the
public execution of Polycarp. According to Irenaeus (c.120 to 202 e.v.),
one particular instance occurred in a Greek community. Suspecting
something, Greeks (Irenaeus doesn't say if they acted officially or as
vigilantees) captured some slaves of Christians. These slaves evidently
were not Christians themselves. Under torture, the slaves were made to
talk about the religious practices of their masters. The slaves quoted
their masters as saying that "their communion was of the body and blood
of Christ." Official investigations of charges of cannibalism followed.
It should be pointed out that some Greek mystery religions of the time
did have a cannibalistic element, notably the Orphic and Dionesiac. The
Mithraic mysteries were much more widely spread, were often practiced by
Christian family members and had a "god eating" aspect. A Roman house
under San. Clemente in Rome was excavated about 35 years ago. Legend had
it that a house on that site was the first place where Peter the Apostle
celebrated the "Mass" or remembrance of the "Last Supper" in ancient
Rome. There was a small household temple found in the excavation,
complete with statue of the Good Shepherd. This statue had horns, and
was Mithraic, not Christian.
The early Christians made a practice of adopting infants left
exposed and abandoned in public places. Although this act of charity was
probably intended simply to add to the numbers of Christians and to
relieve suffering, it did seem to support the slander that Christians
were sacrificing babies to their god. Before long, disappearances of
children left unattended in the market place were attributed to
Christians. Runaways were said to be the victims of Christians. The
occasional maniac who actually did kill children was sometimes called a
Christian by the public. Some fallen pagans actually may have emulated
the public view of what the "bad Christians do" in those times of long ago.
Early on, people like Ignatius (c.30 to 107e.v.) attempted to
organize and control the Christian movement. Ignatius in particular
invented the episcopal idea (bishops apart from laity). He committed
suicide to obtain a rememberance of martyrdom because Polycarp (a kind
man who opposed telling Christians what to do) had become famous through
martyrdom. In time Christianity became confounded in the minds of the
worshippers with Mithraism; and the "Gospels" (post 100 e.v.) were
written, mixing the stories of Rabbi Joshua with the doings of Mithras.
This more practical faith spread among the legions and the provinces
until the Roman Emperors appropriated it to the State as a valuable
asset. Suppression of the former Roman religion followed, and the "Blood
Libel" shifted off the Christians as an explanation for child vanishments.
Over the intervening centuries, the Blood Libel has continued to
play a major role in suppression of minority religious and ethnic
groups. Undoubtedly the worst case is the use of this monstrous lie to
drive pogroms against Eastern Jewish communities in the 16th to 17th
centuries. It is to that period that we owe the coining of the term
"blood libel". Whole villages were murdered by Cossacks on the bizzarre slander that Jewish families sacrificed Christian babies as the "lambs"
Gilles de Raiz, the military advisor of Jean of Arc, was tried and
convicted of child murder in Satanic and sexual rituals, and is now
remembered under the name "Blue Beard". It is possible that Blue Beard
actually did these things, but it is known that he was taken out for
political reasons. The court of king Louis the XIVth of France had a
scandal of "Black Masses" with human sacrifice attached to one particular
priest and some ladies seeking advantage at court. The Reformation saw
many instances of protestants claiming the Catholic Nuns were harlots who
bricked up their bastard get in the walls of nunneries. Again, there may
have been some instances of this owing to the practice of Maria Theresa
of Austria in committing "loose girls" to life in convents.
In every generation there are lost and brutalized children. In
every generation the government tries to ignore infant mortality and
vanishments as a problem too great to solve. In every generation the
just outcries of bereaved parents are taken up by well meaning and by
unscrupulous alike as a crisis needing attention and a contemptible road
Today the cry is out against Witches and Satanists. The pogrom is
being mounted in the halls of the US Congress; and you, dear reader, are
the intended goat of public sacrifice! Because Witches in the present
day are more often middle class and above average education, it may be
possible to prevent the burning again. Don't think that Thelemites are
safe because they aren't Satanists and need not be Wicca. The radical
Christian right does not make any such distinction. For that matter,
about 1/3 of O.T.O. members are also involved in Wicca, about 1/3 Jewish
(these are overlapping estimates) and an unknown but small minority of
O.T.O. members may actually believe in the Christian Devil. I chanced to
see the other day a segment of programming in which a video showed
someone with a "Born again Pagan" sign. The commentator said "atheist".
It doesn't seem to penetrate to the average Christian that non-Christian
religions are real and valid. The average Christian is blind to the fact
that only Christians can become Christian Satanists. Most non-Christians
simply don't believe in either the Christian God or the Christian Devil.
How could they believe such things and not be Christian?
Here's what has happened. No organized underground of child
stealing Satanists has been found, probably owing to no such crime
organization existing. There are isolated instances of maniacs and
crazies who have tortured and maimed children. There are a lot of
missing children. The radical Christian right has decided to attack the
1st Amendment of the US Constitution through alleging that pagans are
responsible for the missing children. Lack of any real evidence doesn't
seem to be a problem. Fundamentalist Christian propaganda against pagans
and wicca is providing a school for child murders. Violent crazies of
Christian background listen to this crap and come to think that what they
do in their sickness is "Satanism", "Witchcraft" and the like. That is
what they say when caught. These unfortunates assemble doggerel ritual
from movies and bible-thumper sermons. Some of them seek us out in their
quest for company. Some of them kill our children!
Here was the first step. Senator Jesse Helms, R.N.C. introduced
this language into an ammendment to the fiscal 1986 Treasury and Postal
Office appropriations bill: "No funds appropriated under this act shall
be used to grant, maintain, or allow tax exemptions to any cult,
organization or other group that has a purpose, or that has any interest
in, the promoting of Satanism or witchcraft." This ammendment to the
bill passed the US Senate by voice vote. Next came the House of
Representatives, as HR3036. The amendment was quietly cut from the bill
on 10/31/85 e.v., probably as a Holloween after thought. Representative
Walker offered HR3389: "A bill to deny tax exemptions to, and income tax, estate tax, and gift tax deductions for contributions to, religious
organizations having a substantial interest in the promotion of witchcraft.
503(n) Religious organizations having a substantial interest in the
promotion of witchcraft.
(1) In general...not withstanding subsections (c) (d) of section
501, any religious or apostolic organization which has as its primary
purpose the promotion of witchcraft or which has a substantial interest
in the promotion of witchcraft shall not be exempt from taxation under
(2) Definition of witchcraft---As used in this subsection the term
"witchcraft" means the purported use of
a) Power derived from evil spirits;
c) Supernatural powers with malicious intent."
I understand that these follies have temporarily failed in the House
of Representatives, but they will be back. This interesting direction in
American politics seems to be coming from the same Senators and
Representatives who are backing mandatory Christian prayer in schools and
a ban on Abortion.
If you would like to express an opinion where it counts, you can
find the name of your Senator or Representative in the phone book or
public Library. The two addresses are: Senate Office Bldg, Washington
D.C. 20510 and House Office Bldg., Washington D.C. 20515. Telegrams
are given more respect than letters, and a 20 word Western Union Public
Opinion message telegram can be sent for $4.45 by calling 1-800-325-6000
Apologies to our Brothers and Sisters outside the USA for all this
matter on a regional problem, but if this can happen here it may also
happen where you live. Take a lesson, and watch your media and political
A closing note on this subject. Thelema is as vulnerable as the
early Christian movement to false report and misreadings of what we say
and publish. Crowley wrote that he sacrificed a child many times. We
know that he meant contraception, but non-Thelemites don't. In
particular, there are many people who take Crowley to mean literal murder
by this statement. It's up to us to correct such a potentially