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" each Passover.
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 to power.
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 sec 501(a).
(2) Definition of witchcraft---As used in this subsection the term "witchcraft" means the purported use of
         a) Power derived from evil spirits;
         b) Sorcery;
         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 representatives.
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 disastrous misinterpretation.

Bill Heidrick