Knowledge is Power

“Occult” means hidden. Occult knowledge is shared only by a select few and the majority know nothing about it. And when a few people know something that others don’t, they have an advantage.

Think of a typical office. A few people get copies of all the memos and are invited to all the meetings. They are the ones whose opinions count, who can make or break a project, who influence who gets promoted and who gets fired. The surest way to take away somebody’s power is to isolate them by cutting them out of the information loop.

Knowledge within cults is very tightly regulated. A lot of effort goes into keeping the people on the bottom of the hierarchy ignorant and deceived and bullying them into not speaking to each other. Alone, each person is powerless, unable to challenge the people on the top and unable to question and defy the cult’s teachings. They are prisoners of the cult and one of the biggest bars in their prison walls is the lack of access to information.

But knowledge can be a means of liberation as well as imprisonment. The more we know about the way cults operate, the stronger and safer we become. The more we know about our own past, the better able we are to handle flashbacks and to protect ourselves against the cult’s threats. When the lies, threats, and “occult” knowledge are brought into the open they lose their power over us.

Take, for example, the calendar. Before I knew I was an RA survivor, I had no idea why waves of suicidality or floods of horrible images periodically came over me. I had no idea that I was having anniversary reactions. Even after I realized that RA was part of my past, I still didn’t know which days were setting things off inside me.

When I discovered Survivorship’s ritual calendar back in 1989, things made much more sense. I could prepare myself for hard days. I could warn my family and friends when I was going to become difficult to live with. The content of the images made sense for the very first time. Sick sense, but sense. Life instantly became more predictable and more manageable.

The more I learned about RA through books, friends, and exploring my internal world, the stronger my grip on my own life became. My feelings of craziness diminished and my self-esteem grew. As triggers became conscious, more of my behavior came under conscious control. There was more room for “me” in my life, and less room for the cult’s influence.

What’s true on an individual level is also true on a societal level. If nobody believes cults exist, they are free to operate with impunity. They can do pretty much what they want, because society’s denial effectively makes them invisible.

But when survivors start to speak out, bit by bit society becomes aware of the existence of cults. The perpetrators have to start being more careful. The signs of ritual abuse in children are more often recognized and the chance of rescuing those children grows. Adult survivors are strengthened by being believed and respected, which enables them to speak our more often. We will all become safer. Knowledge is power!

What do Satanists Really Believe?

I’ve heard a lot of people ask this question and a whole lot more give their opinion without being asked. Many say that Satanists don’t believe the Satan part; they just use it to scare children and make them compliant. Others say it is only an excuse for pedophilia and all the money that comes from selling children sexually.

I have always thought that Satanists are not all that different from other people (except for being Satanists and all that goes with that.)

What do regular church attendees really believe? Some attend to sincerely worship their God. Others go to hedge their bets; they doubt if there is a God, but it doesn’t hurt to go to church just in case. Some go because their wife/husband/mother/father would have a tizzy fit if they didn’t. Some think it’s a good place to make social connections and set the stage for business deals. Kids may go to meet other kids and maybe fall in love. And then there are those who sing in the choir and only care about the music.

You can’t crawl into a person’s mind and heart and know for sure what a person’s motivations are. You have to ask them to find out and trust that they are telling you the truth. Keep in mind that they may tell you the truth in private or in an anonymous survey, but they are less likely to in front of their minister — or wife/husband/mother/father.

Why should the range of motivations be any different for Satanists? Why shouldn’t their honesty vary with circumstances? And what makes you think you can tell what they really believe without asking them?

I was talking about this last weekend with friends. One person had asked members of her family, who were cult, and asked more than once. She told us that she got different answers at different times. They were multiple, of course, and different alters had different opinions. Not surprising, since survivors who are healing often have alters with different religious beliefs — an atheist, a Catholic, a Buddhist, a Satanist, a new-age tree-hugging white witch — and believe with different degrees of intensity.

Now comes another question — does it really matter? Regardless of what a perpetrator’s motivations are, the children will believe what they are told and will take it in on a very deep level. They will be taught, in gruesome ways, to reject and distrust all other religions, making it extremely difficult to reclaim their spirituality as adults. They will believe they are evil to the core, worthy only to be used, thrown away, hurt, and hated. It doesn’t matter if their perpetrators are pious or just putting on a show to terrify the children — the children will indeed be terrified.

Let’s move on to more pressing issues. There are survivors to support in their healing, young therapists to train to help the next generation. There are politicians and law makers and ministers to convince that ritual abuse needs their attention, now. There are child porn rings to bust, international child trafficking rings to stop. We have enough to keep us busy for a very long time.


PS I forgot to say that there are some Satanists who do not do illegal things. They are, in a sense, individualists, paying close attention to their own wishes and desires. I have no quarrel with them because they do not hurt others. For about a year I corresponded with such a Satanist — he was a vegetarian because he did not want to hurt animals and was outraged to hear what had been done to me in the name of his religion. He was a nice person and interesting to get to know — we were closer morally and philosophically than one could have imagined.

Dangerous Groups

I have been posting on the 5th, 15th, and 25th of each month. I got behind and so am switching to the 10th, 20th, and 30th of the month.

Since we are prone to revictimization, it’s a good idea to have ways to red-flag dangerous people and groups.

A helpful tool is Isaac Bonewits’ form evaluating the danger level of a given group. He spent thirty years collecting feedback and revising and refining it. The final version, The Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame, is found at (Don’t be put off by; the evaluation form has nothing to do with any religion.) Although the form was designed to evaluate groups, it could easily be applied to individuals and families.

Bonewits totally ignores the ideology of the group, its size, whether or not it is mainstream, and its official pronouncements. Instead, he calls for an examination of the group’s behavior. There are eighteen factors to be considered, including amount of violence, hypocrisy, paranoia, and control over thoughts and behavior. Each is rated on a scale of one to ten. The higher the group’s score, the more dangerous it probably is.

There are links to Dutch, German, French, Italian, Polish, and Portuguese translations on the webpage.

No matter how deeply buried, we all have a small inner voice that says “Watch out!” and we should listen carefully to it. Bonewits’ evaluation form can validate and strengthen that wise little voice. Use it often and spread the word to others.