RE: U.S. intelligence agencies are increasingly focused on domestic extremists. Their latest target: Satanists.

Why am I not surprised that The Order of Nine Angles (not angels) is British born and bred?
The mystical entity that the world is supposed to collectively fear, they embrace.
• [“Genuine Satanists do not talk – they do; they do not seek to study obscure legends and myths pertaining to the dark side – they become, through sinister magick, the dark side itself; they do not flit from one ‘group’ to another, from one system to another – they follow the techniques of the seven-fold way, under guidance, to the very end refusing to give in when things become difficult and dangerous. In short, they exemplify the spirit of the Satanist: that life-affirming ecstasy which both conquers and defies.”]

Ecstasy? That’s what they seek?
As I watched some of the coverage on television of the riots in Portland and elsewhere, seemingly produced for television by Black Lives Terrorists and Antifa, it often looked to me like there was something beyond a violent protest happening, an engagement with something sinister and powerful that gave those engaging in the violence a look of physical craving followed by release.
It was disturbing to watch. Although it could have been drug induced, especially because it resulted in super human physical moves/maneuvers, I’m wondering now if drugs aren’t a part of their sacrificial rituals used to heighten the experience.
It just seems odd that only white people would engage in what looks more like black magic or witchcraft with a political slant than it looks like white supremacy. And why not in Africa?

ONA Organization – wikipedia

“The ONA is a diverse, and world-wide, collective of diverse groups, tribes, and individuals, who share and who pursue similar sinister, subversive, interests, aims and life-styles, and who co-operate when necessary for their mutual benefit and in pursuit of their shared aims and objectives… The criteria for belonging to the ONA is this pursuit of similar sinister, subversive, interests, aims and life-styles, together with the desire to co-operate when it is beneficial to them and the pursuit of our shared aims. There is thus no formal ONA membership, and no Old-Aeon, mundane, hierarchy or even any rules.”

— The ONA, 2010[142]

The ONA is a secretive organization.[143] It lacks any central administration, instead operating as a network of allied Satanic practitioners, which it terms the “kollective”.[10] Thus, Monette stated that the Order “is not a structured lodge or temple, but rather a movement, a subculture or perhaps metaculture that its adherents choose to embody or identify with”.[144] Monette also suggested that this absence of a centralised structure would aid the Order’s survival, because its fate would not be invested solely in one particular leader.[41] The ONA dislikes the term “member”, instead favouring the word “associate”.[144] In 2012, Long stated that those affiliated with the Order fell into six different categories: associates of traditional nexions, Niners, Balobians, gang and tribe members, followers of the Rounwytha tradition, and those involved with ONA-inspired groups.[10]

The group largely consists of autonomous cells known as “nexions”.[10][1] The original cell, based in Shropshire, is known as “Nexion Zero”, with the majority of subsequent groups having been established in Britain, Ireland, and Germany, however nexions and other associated groups have also been established in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Serbia, Russia and South Africa. The Greek wing of the ONA goes by the name Mirós tou Zeús.[10] Some of these groups, such as the U.S.-based Tempel ov Blood, describe themselves as being distinct from the ONA while both having been greatly influenced by it and having connections to it.[145]

In the ONA’s terminology, the terms Drecc and Niner refer to folk-based or gang-based culture or individuals who support the Order’s aims by practical (including criminal) means rather than esoteric ones.[144] One such group is the White Star Acception, who claim to have perpetrated rapes, assaults, and robberies in order to advance the group’s power; Sieg noted that the reality of these actions has not been verified.[146] A Balobian is an artist or musician who contributes to the group through their production of fine art.[144] The Rounwytha is a tradition of folk-mystics deemed to exhibit gifted psychic powers reflecting their embodiment of the “sinister feminine archetype”. Although a minority are men, most Rounwytha are female, and they often live reclusively as part of small and often lesbian groups.[147]

ONA Outer representative

Several academic commentators have highlighted the existence of a position within the ONA called an “Outer Representative”, who serves as an official spokesperson for the group to the outer world.[148] The first to publicly claim to be the group’s “Outer Representative” was Richard Moult, an artist and composer from Shropshire who used the pseudonym of “Christos Beest”.[148] Moult was followed as “Outer Representative” by “Vilnius Thornian”, who held the position from 1996 to 2002,[56] and who has been identified by ONA insiders as the Left Hand Path ideologue Michael Ford.[149] Subsequently, on the blog of the White Star Acception, the claim was made that the group’s member Chloe Ortega was the ONA’s Outer Representative, also this blog later became defunct by 2013.[150] In 2013, a female American Rounwytha using the name of “Jall” appeared claiming to be the Order’s “Outer Representative”.[56]

However, according to Long the “outer representative” was “an interesting and instructive example of [the O9A’s] Labyrinthos Mythologicus, … a ploy,”[151] and which was designed to “intrigue, select, test, confuse, annoy, mislead”.[152] Long wrote that “the ploy was for a candidate or an initiate to openly disseminate ONA material, and possibly give interviews about the O9A to the Media, under the guise of having been given some sort of ‘authority’ to do so even though such an authority – and the necessary hierarchy to gift such authority – was in fact a contradiction of our raison d’être; a fact we of course expected those incipiently of our kind to know or sense.”[151] According to Senholt the ONA “does not award titles”,[100] with Monette writing that “there is no central authority within the ONA.”[41]

Within the ONA was a group of longstanding initiates known as the “Old Guard” or “Inner ONA”,[41][153] whose experience with the tradition led to them becoming influential over newer members who often sought their advice.[41] Members of this Old Guard included Christos Beest, Sinister Moon, Dark Logos, and Pointy Hat,[41] although in 2011 they stated that they would withdraw from the public sphere.[56]

ONA Membership

An issue of the ONA’s original Fenrir magazine

While the ONA has stated that it is not an occult organization in the conventional sense but an esoteric philosophy,[154][155] several academics have written about ONA membership. In a 1995 overview of British Satanist groups, Harvey suggested that the ONA consisted of less than ten members, “and perhaps fewer than five.”[71] In 1998, Jeffrey Kaplan and Leonard Weinberg stated that the ONA’s membership was “infinitesmally small”, with the group acting primarily as a “mail-order ministry”.[59] Regarding the question of membership, Anton Long, in a letter to Aquino dated October 1990, wrote that “once the techniques and the essence [of the ONA] are more widely available then membership as such is irrelevant, since everything is available and accessible … with the individual taking responsibility for their own development, their own experiences.”[156]

In 2013 Senholt noted that because the group has no official membership, it is “difficult, if not impossible, to estimate the number of ONA members”.[157] Senholt suggested that a “rough estimate” of the “total number” of individuals involved with the ONA in some capacity from 1980 to 2009 was “a few thousand”; he had come to this conclusion from an examination of the number of magazines and journals about the subject circulated and the number of members of online discussion groups devoted to the ONA.[157] At the same time he thought that the number of “longtime adherents is much smaller.”[157] Also in 2013, Monette estimated that there were over two thousand ONA associates, broadly defined.[158] He believed that the gender balance was roughly equal, although with regional variation and differences among particular nexions.[144] Introvigne noted that if Monette’s estimate was correct, it would mean that the ONA is “easily… the largest Satanist organization in the world”.[159]

According to a recent survey, the ONA has more female supporters than either the Church of Satan or the Temple of Set; more women with children; more older supporters; more supporters who are better established in socio-economic terms; and more who politically are further to the Right.[160]

ONA Legacy and influence

The ONA’s main influence lies not with the group itself, but with its prolific release of written material.[47] According to Senholt, “the ONA has produced more material on both the practical and theoretical aspects of magic, as well as more ideological texts on Satanism and the Left-Hand Path in general, than larger groups such as the Church of Satan and the Temple of Set has produced in combination [which] makes the ONA an important player in the theoretical discussion of what the Left-Hand Path and Satanism is and should be according to the practitioners”.[215]

These writings were initially distributed to other Satanist and neo-Nazi groups, although with the development of the Internet this was also used as a medium to propagate its writings,[49] with Monette expressing the view that they had attained “a sizable presence in occult cyberspace”,[23] and thus become “one of the most prominent Left Hand Path groups by virtue of its public presence”.[55] Many of these writings were then reproduced by other groups.[59] Kaplan considered the ONA to be “an important source of Satanic ideology/theology” for “the occultist fringe of National Socialism”, namely neo-Nazi groups like the Black Order.[216] The group gained increased attention following the growth in public interest in Myatt’s impact on terrorist groups during the War on Terror in the 2000s.[94] The historian of esotericism Dave Evans stated that the ONA were “worthy of an entire PhD thesis”,[217] while Senholt expressed the view that it would be “potentially dangerous to ignore these fanatics, however limited their numbers might be”.[218]

ONA In music and literature

ONA influence extends to some black metal bands such as Hvile I Kaos, who according to a report in the music section of LA Weekly, “attribute their purpose and themes to the philosophies of the Order of Nine Angles”,[219] although as of December 2018 the band is no longer involved with the ONA.[220] The French band Aosoth is named after an O9A deity, and takes direct lyrical influence from the O9A. The album Intra NAOS by Italian band Altar of Perversion is named after the O9A essay NAOS: A Practical Guide to Modern Magick and showcases the band members’ own path through the Numinous Way. Some music associated with the O9A has also been controversial; The Quietus published a series of articles during 2018 exploring the connections between far-right politics, music and the ONA.[221] English philosopher, short-story horror writer and “the father of accelerationism” Nick Land has also promoted the group in his writings.[222][223]

In the Jack Nightingale series of novels by Stephen Leather, a Satanic “Order of Nine Angles” are the leading antagonists.[55] Similarly, a fictionalised Satanic group named the “Order of Nine Angels” appear in Conrad Jones’ 2013 novel Child for the Devil.[224] In another of his novels, Black Angel, Jones included a page titled “Additional Information” giving a warning about the Order of Nine Angles.[225]

My COMMENT: The word “accelerationism’ caught my eye. I saw a lot of that in the strategic city-burning and property destruction activated by Antifa and Black Lives via violence and hijacking stadiums for greatest quick effect.

Does that mean accelerating reform through terror methods is positive reform or negative? Does it make for a better life for all or some? Revenge discrimination using accelerationism strategies produces what?

Chaos. Mayhem. Big rebuilding bills. Money was not then the object?

What initiated in the USA was from Britain (or British inspired), so why not initiate what happened here in Britain? They don’t have police issues?

So they called on the Devil to do God’s work? Let’s start in the USA, then go global?

Where do they get their money to travel and organize and pay for hotels and food and supplies? Do they have jobs? Are they really laid-off teachers with nothing to do who are malleable enough to engage in chaos and mayhem??

Who targeted the participants and how? Do they get paid?

What are their religious affiliations? From all walks?

What’s the Middle East Connection?

So far-right extremists engage in ritual sacrifice? What religion condones it? Far-left extremists aren’t religious? Were they once?

I thought Antifa was far-left. Anarchy isn’t left-leaning?

I’m beginning to think that looking at past behavior isn’t going to answer questions needing answers. Different times, different breeds. What’s up is down and under is around, where they stop…

Witchcraft In Africa And The World encycl. brit.

The same dichotomy between sorcery and witchcraft exists (sometimes more ambiguously) in the beliefs of many peoples throughout the world. Again, witches are typically seen as particularly active after dusk, when law-abiding mortals are asleep. According to traditional Navajo belief, when a witch travels at night, he wears the skin of a dead animal in order to effect a transformation into that animal. These “skinwalkers” hold nighttime meetings at which they wear nothing except a mask, sit among baskets of corpses, and have intercourse with dead women. In some African cultures witches are believed to assemble in cannibal covens, often at graveyards or around a fire, to feast on the blood that they, like vampires, extract from their victims. If they take the soul from a victim’s body and keep it in their possession, the victim will die. Like those in Western society suspected of child abuse and Satanism, African witches in the popular imagination are believed to practice incest and other perversions.

Sometimes, as in the Christian tradition, their malevolent power is believed to derive from a special relationship with an evil spirit with whom they have a “pact,” or they exercise it through “animal familiars” (assistants or agents) such as dogs, cats, hyenas, owls, or baboons. In other cases the witch’s power is thought to be based in his or her own body, and no external source is deemed necessary. Among the Zande of the Congo and some other central African peoples, the source of this evil-working capacity is believed to be located in the witch’s stomach, and its power and range increase with age. It can be activated merely by wishing someone ill and is thus a kind of unspoken, or implicit, curse. At the same time, the Zande believe that evil deeds can be wrought even more effectively by the manipulation of spells and potions and the use of powerful magic. In anthropological terminology this is technically “sorcery,” and thus, like the “witches” in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth who dance around a pot stirring potions and muttering spells, the Zande practitioners may more properly be termed “sorcerers” rather than “witches.”

In many African cultures witches are believed to act unconsciously; unaware of the ill they cause, they are driven by irrepressible urges to act malevolently. It is thus easy for those accused of witchcraft, but who are not conscious of wishing anyone ill, to assume that they unknowingly did what is attributed to them. This, along with the effects of suggestion and torture, in a world where people take the reality of witchcraft for granted, goes far to explain the striking confessions of guilt that are so widely reported in Africa and elsewhere and that are otherwise hard to comprehend. It is worth noting, however, that if witches believe they are unconscious agents, this is generally not the view of those who feel victimized by them.

Whatever the basis of their power and the means by which it is exercised, witches (and sorcerers) are regularly credited with causing all manner of disease and disaster. Sickness, and even death, as well as a host of lesser misfortunes, are routinely laid at their door. In many parts of Africa and Asia, epidemics and natural disasters have been interpreted as acts of witchcraft. For some unhappy candidates in many less developed countries, the same malign influence is cited to explain (at least in part) failure in examinations, elections, or difficulties in finding employment. Members of certain Afro-Brazilian cults, for example, believe that job loss is due not to economic conditions or poor performance but to witchcraft, and they participate in a ritual, the “consultation,” to counter the evil.

However, like their ancient and early modern European counterparts, modern Africans and Asians who believe firmly in the reality of witchcraft do not lack the power of rational reasoning. To suppose that these are incompatible alternatives is a common mistake. In reality pragmatic and mystical explanations of events usually exist in parallel or combination but operate in different contexts and at different levels. For example, anthropological research has demonstrated that African farmers who believe in witches do not expect witchcraft to account for obvious technical failures. If one’s home collapses because it was poorly constructed, no witch is needed to explain this. If a boat sinks because it has a hole in its bottom or a car breaks down because its battery is dead, witchcraft is not responsible. Witchcraft enters the picture when rational knowledge fails. It explains the diseases whose causes are unknown, the mystery of death, and, more generally, strange and inexplicable misfortunes.

There is thus no inconsistency in the actions of the sick African who consults both a medical doctor and a witch doctor. The first treats the external symptoms, while the second uncovers the hidden causes. Just as the sick African takes preventative measures prescribed by the medical doctor, he or she might also take steps against the supernatural. To protect against witchcraft, for instance, the patient might wear amulets, take “medicine” or bathe in it, or practice divination. Similarly, the Navajo protect themselves against witches with “gall medicine” or with sand paintings. If preventative measures prove ineffective for the Navajo, then the confession of a witch is thought to cure the evil magic, and torture is sometimes used to extract that confession. Moreover, like ancient and modern Westerners, people in modern Africa and other parts of the world who take the reality of witchcraft for granted usually also believe in other sources of supernatural power—e.g., divinities and spirits.

Witchcraft explains the problem posed when one seeks to understand why misfortune befalls oneself rather than someone else. It makes sense of the inequalities of life: the fact that one person’s crops or herds fail while others’ prosper. Equally, witchcraft can be invoked to explain the success of others. In this “limited good” scenario—where there is implicitly a fixed stock of resources and where life is generally precarious, with little surplus to distribute in time of need—those who succeed too flagrantly are assumed to do so at the expense of others less fortunate. The “witch,” therefore, is typically someone who selfishly wants more than he or she ostensibly deserves, whose aspirations and desires are judged excessive and illegitimate.

However, there is a narrow, ambiguous line between good and evil here. Among some African peoples “witchcraft” is intrinsically neither morally good nor bad, and among others the supernatural activities of “witches” are, according to their perceived effects, divided into good, or protective, and bad, or destructive, witchcraft. Traditional and modern African leaders sometimes surround themselves with protective “witch doctors,” and are themselves thought to be endowed with supernatural power. This is the positive charisma of which witchcraft is the negative counterpart. In the colonial period these ideas were extended to Europeans, who, in the Belgian Congo and British Central Africa at the time of independence, were feared as cannibalistic witches. This was somewhat ironic since colonial regimes, unlike their missionary predecessors, did not believe in witchcraft and made accusations of witchcraft illegal in most of sub-Saharan Africa—which has been largely reversed by their successor regimes.

This ambiguity between good and evil can also be found among the Mapuche, an indigenous people of Chile. They believe that young women take up sorcery and as old women become powerful witches who use “bad medicine” to obtain their ends. They are aligned with evil forces and use them to harm or gain advantage over others. Their training and use of plants and animals in their medicine is similar to that of the shamans who use “good medicine” and other magic against forces of evil.

The distinctions between good and bad supernatural power are relative and depend on how moral legitimacy is judged. This becomes clear when the spiritual power invoked is studied more closely. In a number of revealing African cases, the word that denotes the essence of witchcraft (e.g., tsau among the West African Tiv and itonga among the East African Safwa), the epitome of illegitimate antisocial activity, also describes the righteous wrath of established authority, employed to curse wrongdoers.

This essential ambivalence is particularly evident in Haitian Vodou, where there is a sharp distinction between man-made evil magic powers, connected with zombis (beings identified as familiars of witches in the beliefs of some African cultures), and benevolent invisible spirits identified with Catholic saints. This antithesis between witchcraft and religion, however, is always problematic: after death, the malevolent spirits or powers that an ancestor has used for personal benefit become accrued by that person’s descendants’ protective spirits (lwas). Magic has thus turned into religion (the converse of the more familiar process in which outmoded religions are stigmatized by their successors as magic).

So everything depends on the moral evaluation made by the community of the victims of misfortune: have they received their just deserts or is their plight unjustified? Witchcraft and sorcery are only involved in the latter case, where they provide a moral philosophy of unmerited misfortune. This is particularly important in religions that lack the concepts of heaven and hell. Where one cannot take refuge in the reassuring belief that life’s injustices will be adjusted in the hereafter, witchcraft indeed provides a way of shrugging off responsibility and of coming to terms with an unjust fate. According to these “instant” religions, the just should prosper and the unjust should suffer the consequences of their evil deeds here on earth.

The psychodynamics here are equally revealing. Those who interpret their misfortunes in terms of witchcraft will often use similar means to discover the source of their woes, which is often traced to the malice and jealousy of their enemies. In Africa and elsewhere, the bewitched person seeks help from a diviner to establish the evil person responsible. The diviner, often in a trance, uses a number of different techniques to discover the witch, including throwing dice or opening a Bible or Qurʾān at random. Another form of divination involves administering poison to a chicken and mentioning the name of a suspected witch. If the chicken dies, then the suspect is a witch. Whatever the process, the result is always the same, the bewitched “victim” finds the source of his woes among his rivals, typically neighbours, coworkers, or other competitors. Accusations often follow the lines of community conflict and incompatibility. In Chile, for example, the tensions between the Mapuche and neighbouring Chilean peasants are revealed in accusations that the Chileans use witchcraft to cheat the Mapuche and conversely that the Mapuche use it to harm the crops or livestock of the Chileans. Among the Navajo, competition over grazing lands and water rights or between jealous lovers is the source of witchcraft accusations. In some polygynous societies in Africa, these accusations are particularly prevalent between competing co-wives, but they are by no means always targeted at women. Ultimately, the effect of successful accusations is to call into question or to rupture an untenable relationship.

Ioan M. Lewis

Although accusations of witchcraft in contemporary cultures provide a means to express or resolve social tensions, these accusations had different consequences in premodern Western society where the mixture of irrational fear and a persecuting mentality led to the emergence of the witch hunts. In the 11th century attitudes toward witchcraft and sorcery began to change, a process that would radically transform the Western perception of witchcraft and associate it with heresy and the Devil. By the 14th century, fear of heresy and of Satan had added charges of diabolism to the usual indictment of witches, maleficium (malevolent sorcery). It was this combination of sorcery and its association with the Devil that made Western witchcraft unique. From the 14th through the 18th century, witches were believed to repudiate Jesus Christ, to worship the Devil and make pacts with him (selling one’s soul in exchange for Satan’s assistance), to employ demons to accomplish magical deeds, and to desecrate the crucifix and the consecrated bread and wine of the Eucharist (Holy Communion). It was also believed that they rode through the air at night to “sabbats” (secret meetings), where they engaged in sexual orgies and even had sex with Satan; that they changed shapes (from human to animal or from one human form to another); that they often had “familiar spirits” in the form of animals; and that they kidnapped and murdered children for the purpose of eating them or rendering their fat for magical ointments. This fabric of ideas was a fantasy. Although some people undoubtedly practiced sorcery with the intent to harm, and some may actually have worshiped the Devil, in reality no one ever fit the concept of the “witch.” Nonetheless, the witch’s crimes were defined in law. The witch hunts varied enormously in place and in time, but they were united by a common and coherent theological and legal worldview. Local priests and judges, though seldom experts in either theology or law, were nonetheless part of a culture that believed in the reality of witches as much as modern society believes in the reality of molecules.

Saint Thomas Aquinas. Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas, altarpiece by Francesco Traini, 1363; in Santa Caterina, Pisa, Italy. St. Thomas Aquinas (c1225-1274) Italian philosopher and theologian. Dominican order of monks (black friars).

Since 1970 careful research has elucidated law codes and theological treatises from the era of the witch hunts and uncovered much information about how fear, accusations, and prosecutions actually occurred in villages, local law courts, and courts of appeal in Roman Catholic and Protestant cultures in western Europe. Charges of maleficium were prompted by a wide array of suspicions. It might have been as simple as one person blaming his misfortune on another. For example, if something bad happened to John that could not be readily explained, and if John felt that Richard disliked him, John may have suspected Richard of harming him by occult means. The most common suspicions concerned livestock, crops, storms, disease, property and inheritance, sexual dysfunction or rivalry, family feuds, marital discord, stepparents, sibling rivalries, and local politics. Maleficium was a threat not only to individuals but also to public order, for a community wracked by suspicions about witches could split asunder. No wonder the term witch hunt has entered common political parlance to describe such campaigns as that of the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy in his attempt to root out “communists” in the United States in the 1950s.

Another accusation that often accompanied maleficium was trafficking with evil spirits. In the Near East—in ancient Mesopotamia, Syria, Canaan, and Palestine—belief in the existence of evil spirits was universal, so that both religion and magic were thought to be needed to appease, offer protection from, or manipulate these spirits. In Greco-Roman civilization, Dionysiac worship included meeting underground at night, sacrificing animals, practicing orgies, feasting, and drinking. Classical authors such as Aeschylus, Horace, and Virgil described sorceresses, ghosts, furies, and harpies with hideous pale faces and crazed hair; clothed in rotting garments, they met at night and sacrificed both animals and humans. A bizarre set of accusations, including the sacrifice of children, was made by the Syrians against the Jews in Hellenistic Syria in the 2nd century BCE. These accusations would also be made by the Romans against the Christians, by early Christians against heretics (dissenters from the core Christianity of the period) and Jews, by later Christians against witches, and, as late as the 20th century, by Protestants against Catholics.

Along with this older tradition, attitudes toward witches and the witch hunts of the 14th–18th centuries stemmed from a long history of the church’s theological and legal attacks on heretics. Accusations similar to those expressed by the ancient Syrians and early Christians appeared again in the Middle Ages. In France in 1022 a group of heretics in Orléans was accused of orgy, infanticide, invocations of demons, and use of the dead children’s ashes in a blasphemous parody of the Eucharist. These allegations would have important implications for the future because they were part of a broader pattern of hostility toward and persecution of marginalized groups. This pattern took shape in 1050–1300, which was also an era of enormous reform, reorganization, and centralization in both the ecclesiastical and secular aspects of society, an important aspect of which was suppressing dissent. The visible role played by women in some heresies during this period may have contributed to the stereotype of the witch as female.

The Devil, whose central role in witchcraft beliefs made the Western tradition unique, was an absolute reality in both elite and popular culture, and failure to understand the prevailing terror of Satan has misled some modern researchers to regard witchcraft as a “cover” for political or gender conspiracies. The Devil was deeply and widely feared as the greatest enemy of Christ, keenly intent on destroying soul, life, family, community, church, and state. Witches were considered Satan’s followers, members of an antichurch and an antistate, the sworn enemies of Christian society in the Middle Ages, and a “counter-state” in the early modern period. If witchcraft existed, as people believed it did, then it was an absolute necessity to extirpate it before it destroyed the world.

Because of the continuity of witch trials with those for heresy, it is impossible to say when the first witch trial occurred. Even though the clergy and judges in the Middle Ages were skeptical of accusations of witchcraft, the period 1300–30 can be seen as the beginning of witch trials. In 1374 Pope Gregory XI declared that all magic was done with the aid of demons and thus was open to prosecution for heresy. Witch trials continued through the 14th and early 15th centuries, but with great inconsistency according to time and place. By 1435–50, the number of prosecutions had begun to rise sharply, and toward the end of the 15th century, two events stimulated the hunts: Pope Innocent VIII’s publication in 1484 of the bull Summis desiderantes affectibus (“Desiring with the Greatest Ardour”) condemning witchcraft as Satanism, the worst of all possible heresies, and the publication in 1486 of Heinrich Krämer and Jacob Sprenger’s Malleus maleficarum (“The Hammer of Witches”), a learned but cruelly misogynist book blaming witchcraft chiefly on women. Widely influential, it was reprinted numerous times. The hunts were most severe from 1580 to 1630, and the last known execution for witchcraft was in Switzerland in 1782. The number of trials and executions varied widely according to time and place, but in fact no more than about 110,000 persons in all were tried for witchcraft, and no more than 40,000 to 60,000 executed. Although these figures are alarming, they do not remotely approach the feverishly exaggerated claims of some 20th-century writers.

The “hunts” were not pursuits of individuals already identified as witches but efforts to identify those who were witches. The process began with suspicions and, occasionally, continued through rumours and accusations to convictions. The overwhelming majority of processes, however, went no farther than the rumour stage, for actually accusing someone of witchcraft was a dangerous and expensive business. Accusations originated with the ill-will of the accuser, or, more often, the accuser’s fear of someone having ill-will toward him. The accusations were usually made by the alleged victims themselves, rather than by priests, lords, judges, or other “elites.” Successful prosecution of one witch sometimes led to a local hunt for others, but larger hunts and regional panics were confined (with some exceptions) to the years from the 1590s to 1640s. Very few accusations went beyond the village level.

Three-fourths of European witch hunts occurred in western Germany, the Low Countries, France, northern Italy, and Switzerland, areas where prosecutions for heresy had been plentiful and charges of diabolism were prominent. In Spain, Portugal, and southern Italy, witch prosecutions seldom occurred, and executions were very rare. There were additional hunts in Spanish America, where the European pattern of accusations continued even though the differences between the folklore of the Europeans and Native Americans introduced some minor variations into the accusations. In Mexico the Franciscan friars linked indigenous religion and magic with the Devil; prosecutions for witchcraft in Mexico began in the 1530s, and by the 1600s indigenous peasants were reporting stereotypical pacts with the Devil. Like the Spanish colonies, the English colonies repeated the European stereotype with a few minor differences. The first hanging for witchcraft in New England was in 1647, after the witch hunts had already abated in Europe, though a peculiar outbreak in Sweden in 1668–76 bore some similarity to that in New England. Although the lurid trials at Salem (now in Massachusetts) continue to draw much attention from American authors, they were only a swirl in the backwater of the witch hunts. The outbreak at Salem, where 19 people were executed, was the result of a combination of church politics, family feuds, and hysterical children, all in a vacuum of political authority. Prosecutions of witches in Austria, Poland, and Hungary took place as late as the 18th century.

The responsibility for the witch hunts can be distributed among theologians, legal theorists, and the practices of secular and ecclesiastical courts. The theological worldview—derived from the early Christian fear of Satan and reinforced by the great effort to reform and conform that began in 1050—was intensified again by the fears and animosities engendered by the Reformation of the 16th century. The Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation heightened the fear of witchcraft by promoting the idea of personal piety (the individual alone with his or her Bible and God), which enhanced individualism while downplaying community. The emphasis on personal piety exacerbated the rigid characterization of people as either “good” or “bad.” It also aggravated feelings of guilt and the psychological tendency to project negative intentions onto others. Moreover, just as the growth of literacy and of reading the Bible helped spread dissent, so did they provoke resistance and fear. Sermons and didactic treatises, including “devil books” warning of Satan’s power, spread both the terror of Satan and the corresponding frantic need to purge society of him. Both Protestants and Catholics were involved in the prosecutions, as the theology of the Protestant Reformers on the Devil and witchcraft was virtually indistinguishable from that of the Catholics. More differences existed among Protestants and among Catholics than between the two religious groups, and regions in which Protestant-Catholic tensions were high did not produce significantly more trials than other regions.

Because accusations and trials of witches took place in both ecclesiastical and secular courts, the law played at least as important a role as religion in the witch hunts. Local courts were more credulous and therefore more likely to be strict and even violent in their treatment of supposed witches than were regional or superior courts. Crude practices such as pricking witches to see whether the Devil had desensitized them to pain; searching for the “devil’s mark,” an oddly-shaped mole or wart; or “swimming” (throwing the accused into a pond; if she sank, she was innocent because the water accepted her) occurred on the local level. Where central authority—i.e., bishops, kings, or the Inquisition—was strong, convictions were fewer and sentences milder. Ecclesiastical and civil authorities usually tried to restrain witch trials and rarely manipulated witch hunts to obtain money or power.

The witch executions occurred in the early modern period, the time in Western history when capital punishment and torture were most widespread. Judicial torture, happily in abeyance since the end of the Roman period, was revived in the 12th and 13th centuries; other brutal and sadistic tortures occurred but were usually against the law. Torture was not allowed in witch cases in Italy or Spain, but where used it often led to convictions and the identification of supposed accomplices. The latter was the greatest evil of the system, for a victim might be forced to name acquaintances, who were in turn coerced into naming others, creating a long chain of accusations. Witch trials were equally common in ecclesiastical and secular courts before 1550, and then, as the power of the state increased, they took place more often in secular ones.

Among the main effects of the papal judicial institution known as the Inquisition was in fact the restraint and reduction of witch trials that resulted from the strictness of its rules. It investigated whether the charges resulted from personal animosity toward the accused; it obtained physicians’ statements; it did not allow the naming of accomplices either with or without torture; it required the review of every sentence; and it provided for whipping, banishment, or even house arrest instead of death for first offenders. Like the Inquisition, the Parlement of Paris (the supreme court of northern France) severely restrained the witch hunts. After an outbreak of hunts in France in 1587–88, increasingly skeptical judges began a series of restraining reforms marked by the requirement of “obligatory appeal” to the Parlement in cases of witchcraft, making accusations even more expensive and dangerous.

The decline of witch hunts, like their origins, was gradual. By the late 16th century, many prosperous and professional people in western Europe were accused, so that the leaders of society began to have a personal interest in checking the hunts. The legal use of torture declined in the 17th and 18th centuries, and there was a general retreat from religious intensity following the wars of religion (from the 1560s to 1640s). The gradual demise during the late 17th and early 18th century of the previous religious, philosophical, and legal worldview encouraged the ascendancy of an existent but often suppressed skepticism; increasing literacy, mobility, and means of communication set the stage for social acceptance of this changing outlook.

Nevertheless, the reasons for the decline in the witch hunts are as difficult to discern as the reasons for their origins. The theory best supported by the evidence is that the increasing power of the centralized courts such as the Inquisition and the Parlement acted to begin a process of “decriminalization” of witchcraft. These courts reduced the number of witch trials significantly by 1600, half a century before legal theory, legislation, and theology began to dismiss the notion of witchcraft in France and other countries.

Explanations of the witch hunts continue to vary, but recent research has shown some of these theories to be improbable or of negligible value. Most scholars agree that the prosecutions were not driven by political or gender concerns; they were not attacks on backward, or rural, societies; they did not function to express or relieve local tensions; they were not a result of the rise of capitalism or other macroeconomic changes; they were not the result of changes in family structure or in the role of women in society; and they were not an effort by cultural elites to impose their views on the populace. Moreover, the evidence does not indicate a close correlation between socioeconomic tension and witchcraft, though agrarian crises seem to have had some effect.

One of the most important aspects of the hunts remains unexplained. No satisfactory explanation for the preponderance of women among the accused has appeared. Although the proportions varied according to region and time, on the whole about three-fourths of convicted witches were female. Women were certainly more likely than men to be economically and politically powerless, but that generalization is too broad to be helpful, for it holds true for societies in periods where witchcraft is absent. The malevolent sorcery more often associated with men, such as harming crops and livestock, was rarer than that ascribed to women. Young women were sometimes accused of infanticide, but midwives and nurses were not particularly at risk. Older women were more frequently accused of casting malicious spells than were younger women, because they had had more time to establish a bad reputation, and the process from suspicion to conviction often took so long that a woman might have aged considerably before charges were actually advanced. Although many witchcraft theorists were not deeply misogynist, many others were, notably the authors of the infamous Malleus maleficarum. Resentment and fear of the power of the “hag,” a woman released from the constraints of virginity and then of maternal duties, has been frequently described in Mediterranean cultures. Folklore and accounts of trials indicate that a woman who was not protected by a male family member might have been the most likely candidate for an accusation, but the evidence is inconclusive. Children were often accusers (as they were at Salem), but they were sometimes also among the accused. Most accused children had parents who had been accused of witchcraft.

In the long run it may be better simply to describe the witch hunts than to try to explain them, since the explanations are so diverse and complicated. Yet one general explanation is valid: the unique character of the witch hunts was consistent with the prevailing worldview of intelligent, educated, experienced people for more than three centuries.

U.S. intelligence agencies are increasingly focused on domestic extremists. Their latest target: Satanists.

Jana Winter


In recent years, the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence communities have identified domestic threats linked to a variety of ideologies and movements, ranging from the “boogaloo bois” to conspiracy theorists. But a recent internal government report obtained by Yahoo News adds what may be the most surprising addition to the list of threats: an obscure satanic cult.

A special analysis report authored by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security focuses on a neo-Nazi-influenced satanic group called the Order of Nine Angles, which the intelligence community believes is making inroads among white supremacists. Nine Angles “is a largely decentralized group that advocates a violent extremist interpretation of Satanism,” the document says. “Satanism is a religion with multiple variants, most of which are not violent extremist.”

The Order of Nine Angles, which originated in the U.K., came to public attention in the U.S. earlier this year when Ethan Melzer, an Army private, was charged in a violent plot aimed at his own unit. Melzer allegedly shared details of his unit with the Order of Nine Angles.

This photo provided by the Department of Justice seized from an iCloud account belonging to U.S. Army Pvt. Ethan Melzer displays personal effects, including paraphernalia associated with the extremist group Order of the Nine Angles. (DOJ)
A photo seized from an iCloud account belonging to Army Pvt. Ethan Melzer. It displays personal effects, including paraphernalia associated with the extremist group Order of Nine Angles. (DOJ)

But the intelligence community’s increasing propensity to label racist groups as terrorist threats is, for some critics, potentially a dangerous overreach by U.S. intel, which was empowered after 9/11 to pursue foreign terrorists.

“It’s problematic the same way so many of these so-called intelligence reports regarding terrorism are. It identifies some obscure ideology, defines it very poorly, implies it has some causal effect on violence but doesn’t say it, gives far too few examples and doesn’t really provide suggestions for law enforcement who receive it,” said Mike German, a former FBI agent who reviewed the report for Yahoo News.

“Are there six people who believe this and committed crimes or 6 million people who believe this?” asked German, who is now a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program.

In recent months, the NCC, which was originally formed to help coordinate intelligence on international terrorism, has expanded its role in sharing information on domestic extremists, such as militias, with no links to foreign groups. The prior director determined, after consulting with lawyers, that this expansion was within the center’s mandate, though some observers question that move.

Using post-9/11 powers to focus on what may be purely domestic threats is a legal gray area, said Geoffrey Stone, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, who was tasked by President Barack Obama with reviewing the National Security Agency’s data collection after Edward Snowden’s massive leak of top-secret records in 2013.

“To what extent does there have to be an international connection in order for these agencies to have jurisdiction?” Stone asked, noting that social media makes it easy to see links between international and domestic groups.

“Nazis in the U.S. are an interstate organization, no question about that. The question is whether they’re international,” he added.

So does a satanic cult count as an international terrorist organization?

The Order of Nine Angles was founded in the 1970s in the U.K., according to the counterterrorism center report and other public accounts, and it has been linked to white supremacists and neo-Nazi ideology.

Yet there is little reliable information about the group, and even the authors of the report seemed confused on the extent of its influence. “We lack reliable reporting on the number of O9A adherents, the extent of the group’s international presence, and whether it has a defined leadership structure,” the report says.

Yet even without that data, the report, which was shared among U.S. intelligence agencies including the CIA and the NSA, recommends providing information on the group to social media companies so they can potentially censor its materials, and suggests former members “may be candidates for participation in disengagement programming.”

Supporters of the National Socialist Movement, a white nationalist political group, give Nazi salutes while taking part in a swastika burning at an undisclosed location in Georgia, U.S. on April 21, 2018. (Go Nakamura/Reuters)
Supporters of the National Socialist Movement, a white nationalist political group, give Nazi salutes while taking part in a swastika burning at an undisclosed location in Georgia in 2018. (Go Nakamura/Reuters)

Historian David Garrow questioned whether the agencies involved in the report really even understood what they were writing about. “My most cynical reading would be that they’re trolling the web for suspicious content and they’ve come upon this stuff but that they really don’t know who it’s coming from or how many people are following or reading it,” said Garrow, who has written extensively on the FBI’s investigations into the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Much of the concern in the report appears to stem from the case of Melzer, the Army private, who was allegedly providing information to the Order of Nine Angles. But it’s unclear if he was an adherent, or even motivated by the group’s ideology. (He was also charged with trying to provide information to al-Qaida.)

He pleaded not guilty to the charges, and his lawyers did not respond to Yahoo News’ request for comment.

The NCC, a primary author of the report, declined to answer questions about the document. The center’s “role concerning domestic terrorism is one of support to the FBI and DHS, and includes ensuring that primary federal agencies and state, local and tribal partners have access to and receive all-source intelligence support needed to execute their [counterterrorism] plans or perform independent, alternative analysis,” the center’s spokesperson, Susan Miller, told Yahoo News.

In recent years, attacks by domestic extremists, particularly white supremacists, have grown, outstripping the number of plots by terrorists with a connection to foreign groups such as al-Qaida or the so-called Islamic State. At the same time, there is no federal domestic terrorism statute, although there’s been a push to create one and perhaps an even fiercer pushback from the civil liberties groups that oppose it.

A new federal domestic terrorism statute, civil liberties groups fear, could loosen the reins on domestic investigations and surveillance operations.

German, the former FBI agent, said that because intelligence agencies “see concerns with international terrorism reducing,” they are looking to expand to domestic extremism as a way to stay involved in policymaking and analysis.

For Stone, the law professor, another question is the First Amendment issue, and whether the groups are being investigated because their ideas, such as white supremacy, are abhorrent. “You don’t want the government investigating organizations because you don’t like their ideas,” he said.

“There’s no right to engage in terrorism,” Stone continued, “but there is a right to advocate for it.”

Source: U.S. intelligence agencies are increasingly focused on domestic extremists. Their latest target: Satanists.

Published by Sharon Lee Davies-Tight, artist, writer/author, animal-free chef

Chef Davies-Tight™. The Animal-Free Chef™. ANIMAL-FREE SOUS-CHEF™. FAT-FREE CHEF™. Word Warrior Davies-Tight™. HAPPY WHITE HORSE™. SHARON ON THE NEWS™. BIRTH OF A SEED™. Till now and forever © Sharon Lee Davies-Tight, Artist, Author, Animal-Free Chef, Activist. ARCHITECT of 5 PRINCIPLES TO A BETTER LIFE™ & MAINSTREAM ANIMAL-FREE CUISINE™.

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