On Rosemary’s Baby, the Satanic Panic, and Pagan Leadership

Rosemary’s Baby is one of those films that many Pagans don’t like to watch or even discuss. Yet there are powerful lessons to be learned from this film, lessons about autonomy and self-ownership. The film also ties into a cultural phenomenon that occured in the 1980s called “the Satanic Panic,” which was a traumatic event for many innocent people. Though it has been thoroughly investigated and debunked, there are still people who peddle this kind of sensationalism today, and they don’t care about the lives they can potentially ruin by doing so. In my opinion at least, every rational person living in the 21st century needs to know about the Panic and how its legacy can still cause great societal harm today.

(Just two weeks ago, a UK paper called The Guardian ran an article with the headline, “Witchcraft and Black Magic Contribute to Increase in Child Abuse.” The paper even claimed that this was the conclusion of a study by Children In Need. Thankfully, a Pagan journalist at The Wild Hunt published an excellent critique of the article, showing that Children In Need’s data are actually concerned with RELIGIOUS MAJORITIES that are AGAINST witchcraft or the occult. In other words, you are still more likely to be raped and murdered FOR BEING A WITCH than you are to to be raped or murdered BY witches. Yet media like The Guardian would like you to believe otherwise, because like Anton LaVey once observed, “Satan Sells.” )

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An Astral Pilgrimage

I was raised agnostic by parents who were only nominally Christian. Religion and spirituality were never a part of my life until I started discovering my identity as a Setian at age 14. Then, all of a sudden, it was “oh so important” that I be told all the “correct” things to believe and practice. And when I refused to cooperate with such mental conditioning, my dad took great relish in confiscating all my books, music, jewelry, etc. When this failed to work, he started slapping me and punching me around. Little did he realize (as the ignorant so seldom do) that nothing he did could threaten my faith; in fact, it only strengthened my resolve. This was my first taste of real power in life, for up to that point, I had never possessed anything that couldn’t somehow be taken away from me. I don’t care how much they try, no human being can ever remove a god or goddess from another human being’s heart, especially when that god or goddess has already claimed you for one of their own. All this drama happened more than two decades ago now, and everyone else who has ever tried to bully me out of my faith has had to deal with the exact same result (e.g., FAILURE). Set is mighty, and so am I!

Since my dad was so quick to become violent over this stuff, I had to find secret and non-obvious ways of engaging my faith around the homestead while I was growing up. It might have seemed like I was resting my eyes or taking a nap or whatever, but inside my head, I was practicing visualization exercises like the one linked below. Sometimes I would do this even when I was praying out in the woods, for one time when I had been out there praying aloud, this total stranger overheard me, stopped me, and decided to lecture me about the Bible (as if I had never read it before). It was an extremely creepy experience, so I knew I would have to pray silently in public if I wanted to avoid being harassed by these people. So the following technique became a normal part of my practice for several years. Nowadays, I’m a married homeowner and taxpayer living in a predominantly liberal community. There are any number of Muslims and Buddhists and Wiccans and other minority faiths in my neighborhood, so going outside to pray to Set does not get me anywhere near so much negative attention as it did in areas like central Texas.

But while I can now proudly display Set’s sacred images and chant incantations to Him in my home without fear, there are so many other people out there who can’t. I know in my bones that there are adolescent Setians and Pagans out there right now, suffering the same indignities and abuses I once suffered at their age. So it is that I offer this, what I call my “Astral Pilgrimage” technique, in the hopes that it might prove useful to anyone who might find themselves in such a toxic position.

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