ARTICLES

Paul Tabori and Phyllis Raphael

Paul Tabori wrote "The natural science of stupidity", "Crime and the Occult: How ESP and Parapsychology Help Detection" (1974), "Companions of the Unseen", "Harry Price: the Biography of a Ghost Hunter", "Pioneers of the Unseen", "The Ghosts of Borley: Annals of the Haunted Rectory" (1973) (with Peter Underwood), "Crime and the Occult: a Forensic Study", "Gazetteer of Scottish and Irish Ghosts" (1973) (with Peter Underwood). Phyllis Raphael wrote "They Got What They Wanted" (1972), "Beating the Love Affair Rap and Other Tales from the Village Voice, 1971-1975" (1983).

Sex and the Occult

 - Paul Tabori and Phyllis Raphael -

          DURING A panel discussion held in 1968 under the auspices of Forum Magazine, the participants reached more or less general agreement that there was a definite link between sexuality and psychic phenomena, that genital eroticism played at least a discernible part in this field - as, indeed, if we accept Freud and his school for our authorities, in all human life. Mr. Peter Underwood, the President of the Ghost Club, pointed out that many mediums had complaints and illnesses associated with the genital organs - though this was little known and discussed. According to him it was an indisputable fact that a good deal of psychic phenomena was associated with the sex organs. He had gathered considerable material on this subject and had delivered lectures at Sussex University and elsewhere on The Sexual Element in Spontaneous Psychic Phenomena.

Not all experts were definitely committed to the idea. Anita Black, a Cambridge-educated psychologist pointed out that Spiritualists, like many other religious groups, did not have a special attitude to Freud. She explained:

"Looking at the problem in a wider context, Freud's views and his contribution can be divided into two very wide areas. One has to do with the supposed content of the psyche, which in his view was so largely infantilely sexual, and the other has to do with 'transference' in the very widest sense, the 'defence mechanism', the view that a very large proportion of our conscious life is governed by unconscious factors, whatever they may be, and this has a very important bearing on mediumistic communication from any point of view. A medium speaks from sources which are supposed to be from outside his or her consciousness. Now he or she is very apt to think and wish to believe (and very often does sincerely believe) that this communication comes from a communicator, a higher spirit, a spirit guide or something of that order. At the same time, it may be all too apparent to the onlooker that at least some of this comes from the medium's own mind. The medium's interests and pre-occupations may certainly colour the subjects he discussed with his sitter. The only work in psychic research in this area that I know of has been done by Tenhaeff, with Croiset and other Paragnosts as he called his mediums. Tanhaeff found that what a Paragnost 'sees' is very often something that preoccupied him in his childhood. For example, a man who, as a child had been abandoned and left with an unscrupulous guardian would be very sensitive in tracing frauds perpetrated by guardians on orphans. Again, another medium who was himself a transvestite, was good at gaining paranormal information regarding transvestites. I do think that there is a linkup between Freudian theories or psychoanalytic theories in a very general way and the para-psychical ..."

It was a short step form general conclusions to the more specific. It had been established that pent-up sexual energy, especially within girls who were at the age of puberty, often manifested itself psychically. This usually happened during the so-called poltergeist disturbances where objects moved, noises were heard, small fires were started - and the "agency" remained invisible and unknown. In the instances when young girls or boys moved, so did objects around them - though safely outside their reach. Poltergeist phenomena were really an example of a person who was haunted - as opposed to a house.

And, of course, in many poltergeist cases the bed or bedroom played a major part. Here the correlation between the erotic element and the poltergeist phenomena was only too plain. Beds bedrooms and stairs were almost invariably associated with poltergeists - which established a clear-cut link. A good deal of research has gone into this question and the definite relationships between some of the so-called "hauntings" and sexuality are now unchallenged by most experts.

Peter Underwood related a case where a couple in love discovered that little blue lights appeared and sparks and articles moved in their bedroom when they reached the climax in their love-making. Some years ago a general practitioner who had spent many years in India told a Ghost Club audience how he had been called to a house which had a quadrangle in the centre, open to the sky - a familiar enough arrangement in the East, and especially in the Madras area. Here frequent showers of stones occurred, a veritable hail rattling down upon this open area. Nothing could be seen from the outside but the showers of stones had been observed inside from many positions. The open space was used for drying purposes and occasionally when the clothes were put out they would ignite all along the line. After he had made careful enquiries throughout the household, the doctor found one girl about the age of puberty who was suffering from unnatural suspension of the menstrual functions. The girl was removed from the house and the phenomena ceased - but whenever she went the same poltergeist happenings followed her. She was then medically treated and while in a healthy condition, nothing unusual happened. Eventually she was cured. The doctor believed that psychic forces could be stored up in girls around the age of puberty and he related another case in Devon where similar phenomena took place in similar conditions. There is, indeed, voluminous evidence available by now pointing to such an unmistakable correlation between sex and psychic phenomena.

We raised the question of the connection between masturbation and poltergeist phenomena. (By the way, poltergeists appear to be immortal - while many types of phenomena seemed to have faded out, have become extremely scarce in recent years, these baffling outbreaks continue to be reported from the four corners of the world.) Underwood recalled a case where a number of adolescent girls, unhappy in their isolated surroundings, became absorbed with masturbation and poltergeist-like phenomena took place: footsteps, door-openings, objects flying about without human agency. When the circumstances changed and the girls became happy and ceased excessive masturbation, the unexplained psychic happenings stopped. Pent-up energy thus seems to be used in a psychic way. As to the explanation of such extraordinary events, one possible theory put forward was that masturbation could he described as a release of pent-up energy and it was possible that some poltergeist phenomena were a direct result of such a release.

By and large, deprivation of love (physical and mental) could also lead to so-called psychic phenomena. If we accepted the psychological truth that love was the basic necessity for a happy man or woman or child, privation of love naturally caused unhappiness. This, in turn, resulted in anxiety and conflicting tensions in the nervous system which, in turn, could lead to both masturbation and subsequently, psychic phenomena. Unhappiness could also cause frustration and there was overwhelming evidence that frustration could lead to so-called spontaneous psychic phenomena. A good example of this was the number of ghostly nuns and monks - whose way of life often led to sexual frustration. No one could deny that there was more than just sexuality in psychic phenomena but a distinct relationship did exist on occasions; certainly not always but perhaps more often than the layman suspected.

The problem of sex was, of course, by no means solved with death. Much had been written and arguments still raged about the somewhat academic question whether male and female ghosts did have sexual relations - in spite of the adage about there being no giving or taking in marriage in Heaven. Swedenborg, the Swedish mystic whose voluminous writings about heaven and hell form the basis of a still flourishing Protestant sect, is accepted as the "great authority" on this subject. His major argument with his own established church was that he claimed - in all earnestness and with a peculiar intensity - that sex was one of the preoccupations of the spirits. Actually, Spiritualists range all the way from the Swedenborgian view to the opposite extreme. Some spiritualists might say: "Of course, it depends at which level you arrive after death." In this respect, as in so many others connected with occultism, we're dealing with a tremendous range of opinion - nor does it appear to be narrowing as the years go by. But on the whole a fair proportion of spiritualists believe that there is love and sexual intercourse on the "astral plane". Speaking of such a "plane" or "level" indicates a belief in all human beings possessing more than one body. According to this theory when we vacate our ordinary body, our other bodies survive, still substantial but more tenuous - and at the early stages of spiritual life, are still quasi-physical. Obviously in this intermediary stage there is more likely to be sexual desire and activity than later when the "flesh becomes all spirit".

Peter Underwood and other specialists have claimed that sexual activity can release not only sexual tensions but also the non-sexual psychic tensions which prevent the occurrence of spontaneous psychic phenomena. One case which Underwood investigated in the sixties was one in which a frustrated and unhappy young woman lived alone for some years simply existing from day to day without hope, and without any psychic occurrences. Then she met someone and they fell in love and in the midst of the great outpouring of their love and happiness, psychic happenings did take place. Thus normal healthy sex appears to be able to promote psychic phenomena, though this is, of course, only one theory to account for hauntings or poltergeist happenings. In other cases the circumstances do not fit into the framework of a preconceived theory. "So we revise the theory," Underwood explained, "and then we come across another case which does not fit the revised theory! What we can say is, without any shadow of doubt, sexuality is very much concerned with psychic phenomena, both induced and spontaneous."

"Spiritual love" and "normal love" are conceived to be different things - though such a differentiation depends in what dimension one is supposed to be in. When the spiritualists speak of an astral body, they consider that it has passed from one plane to another - and therefore one's love life has undergone certain changes. Presumably there are a very large number of possible expressions of love - and these include, perforce, the physical and non-physical in the occult sense.

Another interesting fact linked by occultism and sex is that many women become clairvoyants at the time of their menopause. Researchers have found time and again that sexual change or sexual shock are associated with the beginning or the cessation of spontaneous or mediumistic phenomena. It is known that women are more sexually inclined at certain times of the month, often during the pre- and post-menstrual weeks and in some cases of haunting it has been found that the reported psychic phenomena reached their height at those times. In the case of the menopause it is quite likely that the physical and psychological change has a direct bearing on the woman's potential powers of clairvoyance. Medical science, incidentally, has discovered that there are rhythmic contractions which occur every eight or ten minutes inside a woman's body throughout the whole of her child-bearing period. In women past the menopause these contractions are absent. It may be that the onset of this function, at adolescence, is the reason for many poltergeist phenomena associated with girls as they become women. It is quite likely that at the menopause the physical change has a link with the psychical phenomena - or the absence of them. But there is a great deal of work to be done about this whole problem - medical and psychic - before definite conclusions can be drawn.

Mrs. Black added:

"If I were forced to theorise, I think I would be more general. Supposing it were true, that there is a tendency for the increase of clairvoyance during and after the menopause. I would try to put it into the same category as clairvoyance as a result of people being knocked on the head, and of the 'phantom limbs' as the result of losing an arm or a leg; in other words, I would be inclined to look on it as a compensatory phenomenon in a very wide context. Supposing one regards different functions, different parts of the body, as in some sense fulfilling the needs of an organism as a whole. If you frustrate, if you stop, if you injure the body at any point, there may always be a psychic compensation, or perhaps occasionally there could be a real break-through compensation."

Sex also may have a definite connection with the fact that there were far fewer physical mediums than about thirty or forty years ago - though this is a question which is being discussed at greater detail in our next chapter. Peter Underwood suggested that the greater freedom, the wider permissiveness of the fifties and sixties in the field of sexuality may be the cause of less frustration - and it is quite possible that this may have some connection with the lack of physical mediumship. At least there are two undeniable facts here - a more tolerant view of all types of sexuality and a definite scarcity of good physical mediums. Certainly if one assumed that some aspects of psychic phenomena are the results of sexual frustration, then obviously if there is less frustration, there must be fewer psychical phenomena. It's a matter of the source of supply, of cause and effect. It is not something which can be expressed in statistical terms because there are no reliable statistics at any given moment - one cannot say that there were X number of physical mediums in the world in 1930 and today there are so many less.

Once one accepts the distinct correlation between conscious and unconscious sexual motives and so-called "spontaneous" psychic phenomena, there are certain conclusions to be drawn though most of them must be qualified. The only unqualified one, after some twenty years' of special research, is the certainty of connection. Of course it would be quite wrong to say that sexuality explained all psychic phenomena but it does explain some hauntings and it is certainly associated with many poltergeist phenomena. And the force used in mediumship appears to have a very close relationship with the sexual force. Some male mediums have a sexual climax at the height of their psychic performances - without any physical stimulation. Many female mediums have genital disturbances. Some mediums are incapable of producing any form of psychic phenomena after having sexual intercourse, much as athletes or football players will perform much less satisfactorily if they have sex before a race or a game. The forces of mediumship and sex are definitely related to one another though the nature and the intensity of this relationship still have to be fully explored. Perhaps we would need a psychical Kinsey Report.

There are certain sexual elements in telepathy where two people who are in general rapport - such as husband and wife - are more likely to be able to communicate; though there is no suggestion that the telepathic one is necessarily a heterosexual relationship. Identical twins, for instance, probably have a stronger claim to communication than a married couple though there is still insufficient material to come to definite conclusions about this.

Hypnotism, while no longer considered an occult phenomenon, still remains one of the techniques of psychical research - indeed, it was the principal technique used by the French psychiatrists such as Richet and Janet who were also interested in psychic phenomena. And a good many of them observed in the course of these experiments that there was between themselves as hypnotists and their hysterical patients a rapport so powerful that they could apparently exercise some influence on the patients even when they weren't present. In the first instance, this was observed almost by accident. Some of the curious phenomena of hypnotism brought quite a number of nineteenth-century natural scientists and doctors into the field of psychical research - among them a number of Russians. Hypnosis in the first instance was very much part of the research techniques of psychical researchers. Originally it was one of the phenomena that were not generally accepted - just as telepathy and clairvoyance are still struggling for full scientific recognition. When a famous surgeon did an amputation using hypnosis, while the patient sat there smiling happily, the sceptical doctors said: "He's shamming!" And while hypnosis has been proven as not belonging to the field of psychical phenomena, as a technique it has a special relation to psychical research. Unfortunately there are comparatively few competent hypnotists so psychical researchers have not been very successful in their attempts to design more sophisticated experiments.

And here the old chestnut of hypnotic seduction must be mentioned as another link between sex and psychical phenomena - or, in this case, psychic technique. Could a girl be seduced against her will while under hypnosis? The answer seems to be that it could not happen - she would wake up. However, there are experts who think that in twenty cases out of a hundred she may not wake up. This view is based largely on experimental evidence and there is still a great deal of argument going on about such experimental situations. Perhaps in such experimental hypnotic situation the subject really knows that the hypnotist is only "playing at it" and therefore refuses to comply with a command she knows the hypnotist does not really wish her to carry out. Experimental situations cannot be taken as necessarily duplicating situations in real life. So at least some experts claim that seduction under hypnosis - though "generally accepted that it cannot be done" - has, in fact, been achieved. However, there are obvious limits - and the idea that a person can be made to do "almost anything" under hypnosis is certainly erroneous, however many thrillers have been based on this premise. For instance, it is highly doubtful, whether someone can be made to commit murder - unless, of course, the intention or inclination is already within him. A classic case was that of the Krafft-Ebing experiment in which a young woman under hypnosis actually fired a gun at the famous psychiatrist - but before she did so, unconsciously removed the bullets. In other words, she obeyed the hypnotic command but she safeguarded herself against committing murder. There has to be some initial basis on which the hypnotist builds. That is why it is necessary to spend some time with a patient or subject. It cannot be done in a single session. What hypnosis can do is to remove certain inhibitions, release certain forces that pre-exist in a person's mind. But these forces cannot be created by hypnosis. Sexuality, of course, is part of everybody's make-up and it should be possible to release it, to remove the inhibitions. Unless the woman to be wooed is impossibly frigid, these forces within her may be released, the sexual elements in her psychological make-up can be brought to the surface. Hypnosis certainly can be used by psychologists and psychiatrists in treating patients so that they might be able to uncover sexual facts buried deep in the subconscious - and do this more effectively and quickly. Here sex and psychical technique are closely linked.

So much for the theory. What about practice?

We have referred before to the apparent scarcity of physical mediums - the men and women who, in the twenties and thirties, provided psychical researchers with some of the most spectacular phenomena of materialization, telekinetic and other "exploits".

Many experts incline today to the view that these unusual people possessed an extraordinary amount of what could be described (for want of a more precise expression) psychic energy. Mr. Underwood referred to this during our panel discussion and likened it to sexual energy or potency - though, of course, the two cannot be called identical. What appears to be fairly well-established, however, is the limited total of this psychic energy as if it were a capital with which Nature endows a person. A capital sum which does not increase, yields no compound interest but is spent - slowly and quickly, according to its employment until it is all gone. If this theory is accepted and applied, it will explain a good deal about the mystery of the so-called "mixed mediumships" which has plagued psychical researchers for many years and has caused innumerable feuds, quarrels and arguments among them. For as a medium feels his or her powers waning, the chances are that he or she will start to "help out", to fake and cheat. This may explain Eusapia Palladino's famous injunction to those who sat with her during her later years: "Watch out or I'll cheat!" It may even explain the still-debated case of Rudi Schneider who was accused by Harry Price of freeing one arm from the electric control at the very end of an extremely successful series of séances. Defended passionately by other researchers, Rudi's cause is still being championed or assailed some thirty-five years after the events. But whether Price was right or wrong in his accusations, certainly Rudi became less and less interested in mediumship - as he became more and more interested in his fiancée, a pretty girl whom he later married. If his sexual energies had found an outlet in his mediumship, they were now directed towards a more universal and "natural" goal - and who could blame him for it?

There have been similar cases where the waxing and waning of mediumistic power could be clearly linked to sexuality. And of course, there have been mediums in the sixties and long before it who used sex to win adherents. At least one American medium was notorious for making it a rule to sleep with the male investigators, especially with those whose vigilant antagonism she had good reason to fear. The result was an obvious lenience, a relaxation of scientific detachment which inevitably benefited the lady. She was a kind of Empress Catherine of the psychic world and it took a very determined man to resist her seductive charms - though these, too, faded as her reputation declined and finally she was unmasked as a common fraud by some people who obviously found truth more attractive than this remarkable woman.

During our investigations of so-called physical mediums of the sixties - who should be nameless just because they were all utterly and completely disappointing - we came upon three obviously hyper-sexed individuals who were using the obvious advantages of the séance-room to indulge their propensities.

One was a lady of what the French call "a certain age" who sported a handsome little moustache barely bleached by hydrogen-hyperoxide. There were three sitters, all male, in a tight little circle; the room was very dimly lit by a red-coated bulb and she urged us to get "real matey" and sit as close to her as possible because then "the influences would be strengthened". She had not one "control" but three and their choice certainly showed that she had studied erotic history - for the first one was Messalina, the second Catherine the Great and the third someone she addressed rather familiarly as Cleo. (It became evident that it wasn't Anthony's love but a latter-day sinner, Cleo de Merode, one of the "great horizontals" of the Belle Epoque whom she meant.) The medium - whom we might as well call Madame Zara though that was neither her real nor professional name - invited the three amorous ladies in turn to manifest themselves. Not one of them did - perhaps they were otherwise occupied - but the small, pasty-faced man who sat on her right, suddenly started to emit the most peculiar noises, half-agonized and half-pleasurable. We listened partly in alarm and partly in envy, for a full three minutes as these noises became louder and louder, reached a crescendo and then died away. The medium remarked: "Ah, that must've been lovely, he must've met Cleo or maybe it was Messy, on the astral plane!" The little man said nothing about his experiences; he left before the lights went up so we couldn't tell what effect, if any, the extraordinary encounter had on him. Then the other man, a tall, beefy fellow began to giggle and grunt alternately. "Stop it!" he cried out suddenly. "Stop teasing me!"

"Who's teasing you?" asked the medium, her voice a little unsteady.

"I dunno," the man replied. "But it's too much, I tell you, lady, it's too much!"

He heaved himself to his feet and almost upset the table. The medium pulled at his coat tails and made him sit down again. "It's all right," she said. "I told her to go away. That was Catherine, of course. She's used to having her way. With men, I mean."

It was only a few minutes later that we felt a far from astral hand on our knee whose fingers started a kind of exploratory wriggle. We endured this for a while, in the interests of psychical research - but suddenly we pounced and grabbed the hand around the wrist. It was small and slippery and it managed to wiggle out of our reach. The medium spoke up indignantly at this point: "You were told not to grab, dearie! They don't like that - they don't like it at all!" We said that we were sorry but the spirits were getting too familiar and asked for the lights to be put on. The medium's face was flushed but that may have been due to, her exertions to summon the three famous ladies from the Beyond. She collected the agreed fee and we left. The beefy gentleman stayed behind. No doubt he wanted another bout with Cleo, or maybe Messy?

The second medium, holding his séances in a spacious though somewhat shabby living room in South London, was a silver-haired and very dignified gentleman. Before the circle was formed - which, on this occasion, consisted entirely of women - he explained at length and with a great many rather eccentric technical terms (instead of "materialization" he talked of "flesh-becoming") that in order to manifest themselves, return to the cumbersome and clumsy world of the living, spirits had to draw energy from those who summoned them - both the medium and the sitters. This they achieved apparently in a number of ways through the astral equivalent of fingertips, the toes and the lips, depending on whatever they found the most expeditious. He therefore warned his sitters that they might experience such touches and contacts. If any of them had an objection to such things happening to her, he advised the person in question to leave - the entrance fee would be promptly refunded. Though one or two of the eight women present looked dubious, not one of them budged, it was obvious that they were willing to make sacrifices and, if need be, "nourish the spirits" so that the psychic manifestations could take place.

The medium wore a kind of white robe or cloak which enveloped him completely. A broad silver belt spanned his still trim waist. He waved his long, tapering fingers over the table and the lights went out suddenly. Only two small phosphorescent plaques glowed in the middle of the table.

"If you are being chosen as a source of spirit-food," he said, "please try not to cry out. Just hum a note or tap your heel against the chair. Sudden, loud noises will frighten our friends away - and they are coming a long long way to visit us.'

Indeed it wasn't a cry or a scream that interrupted the séance. It was a loud and unmistakable slap which sounded, loud and clear, after about fifteen minutes had passed. The record-player, discreetly muted, had supplied a spirited version of the Liebestod and thus the slap was even more startling.

"Wha ... what's happened?" we heard next the medium's voice, startled out of its former sauvity.

"You know damn' well what happened, you beast!" an angry female voice replied. "You and your spirit feeding! I don't mind nourishing the entities - but not from there!"

This cryptic remark broke up the séance - though the medium, now almost reduced to tears, protested that the young lady had absolutely no cause for alarm, that whatever happened was a "purely ethereal contact". As for himself, he was at least six feet from her, hemmed in by the other sitters - she didn't really think ... ?

She did and told him in no uncertain terms that he should call himself lucky she did not go to the police and charge him with indecent assault.

The third medium with whom we had a séance with such sexual undertones was also a woman but she was young and really pretty. We made the appointment by telephone and she explained that she only gave private sittings - either to single men or women or to a mixed couple but never more. Her fee was by far the highest ever quoted and her address a Mayfair one which probably explained the scale of her charges.

She received us in a high-necked, severely cut dress, her blonde hair brushed back from her forehead, her make-up discreet almost to the point of non-existence, her perfume "out of this world". She first collected the fee - in cash, please - and then offered us a drink. After which she came straight to the point.

"I'm a clairvoyant," she said, "and a very good one. You'll find out pretty soon. But I can only function after sex. It's up to you how you want it - singly or as a threesome. I don't mind. Afterwards I will demonstrate my powers. Any objections?"

We explained that we had neither moral nor professional objections but that we were gathering material for a book and therefore should not be classified as her ordinary "clients". Instead of testing her powers, would she mind answering a few questions? No, she said, if they were not too personal.

"Do you consider yourself a proper medium?"

"What else?"

"Not a prostitute?"

"Certainly not. I don't charge for sex - I charge for being a mental medium. But as sex is an integral part of my mediumship, I cannot draw a firm and rigid line between the two, can I?"

"And don't any of your clients abuse this - well, proximity?"

She looked quite shocked.

"Oh no. They are all interested in my clairvoyant powers. At least I hope so," she added with the hint of a smile.

She went on to explain that intercourse "recharged her psychic batteries". No, "auto-erotism", that is, masturbation would not do. It had to be, as she put it, "participatory sex" for the "recharging" to work properly.

We decided to take her word for it. She asked us to recommend her at least to "those genuinely interested in precognition" - and we left it at that.

When the panel discussed sex on the "astral plane", the love-relationships of the disembodied spirits that have "shuffled off the mortal coil", one member quoted the case which Harry Price had recorded (probably with tongue-in-cheek) about the young man who kept on receiving gifts from the other world. These were highly embarrassing and very personal - like a set of rather fancy male underwear, deposited in his lap while he was travelling in a crowded tube-train - and were apparently tokens of affection from a young lady who had died some years earlier and who, apparently, had conceived a mortal (or lethal) passion for the gentleman. This was the more inconvenient because the young man was engaged to be married. Price did not tell the end of the story so we do not know how long this peculiar haunting continued and in which manner it ended. In any case, it was something that the late Thorne Smith, the Rabelaisian creature of Topper and his ghostly friends might have thought up for a plot, or that would have fitted perfectly into one of the books of P. G. Wodehouse. But we came across a similar and, by all accounts, far from imaginary story in - of all places - Chicago where a young musician became involved in a series of far from pleasant incidents. At least they started innocently enough - flowers and small gifts would drop on him in the privacy of his apartment or when he was walking alone on die beach of Lake Michigan. He would find them in the pockets of his overcoat, tucked into his violin case (he was a junior member of the string section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), under his pillow. He was puzzled but neither alarmed nor displeased. Until one day a whole series of near-deadly accidents began. Someone was trying to kill him - though he had no idea who and why; and in most cases, after very narrow shaves, he could not trace any human presence, tangible agency behind these attempts. Truly alarmed now, and urged by his fiancée to whom he was forced to tell about his predicament, he went to a medium. During a long and exhausting séance he was told that a "girl-spirit" had fallen in love with him and was showing her affection both by the presents and by the determined tries at killing him - because she wanted to be "united with him in the spirit". Apparently the girl - who had died of an overdose of drugs - had fallen in love with him while she was still alive and lived in the same apartment house - though the young man never even noticed her. All this the medium, a lady of great earnestness and dignity, explained in detail - but she had no advice to offer as to what the young man should do. He considered resigning from his job and moving - but his fiancée pointed out that for a ghost changing her place of haunting should offer no difficulties. He tried to talk to the invisible presence, to argue and plead with her - all to no avail. And then - at least so the story was told - it all stopped suddenly. The young lady-ghost had apparently transferred her affections to a folksinger whom she found more to her liking. Three weeks after the violinist's troubles stopped, the singer was killed in a car accident which no one could explain - for he was a particularly careful driver, road conditions were excellent and there was no conceivable reason why his car should plunge from the expressway into the ravine below.

Si non è vero ... But who could say that Swedenborg was wrong when he insisted that love and sex survived the death of the body and that the passions were stronger than the flesh? And if he was right, what could be more exquisite and delightful than the love-making of the spirits, unhampered by such things as gravity, metabolism and all the cumbersome ties and processes of our existence? And if there is a mutual, reciprocal influence of the material and spiritual world, the present permissiveness of our society, the break-down of sexual taboos and restrictions, must find its echo in the Great Beyond. If spirits have inhibitions, they should be loosening, too, with the new gospel of total sexual freedom being preached in most countries - if not yet totally transposed into practice.

The field where sex and the occult are almost inextricably interwoven, is that of black magic and witchcraft. Discussing these occult practices in the nineteen-sixties with a British journalist who made a long, special study of them, we were told that during his exhaustive investigation he found nothing supernatural - but he found plenty of sex!

The personification of occult sex, of satanism and the magic of evil, is at this date on trial for life, together with several members of what he called his "family" but what could be best described as his harem. Charles Manson's trial has become a six-ring circus as most trials involving colourful and strong personalities are apt to do in the news-hungry, neophiliac United States - and Manson's case became even more front-page featured when President Nixon himself indulged in his favourite gymnastic exercise of putting his foot into his mouth. Manson, the frustrated musician; Manson, the footloose wanderer; Manson, the hypnotic male whose women would do anything he asked them, with the kind of utter submissiveness that was wholly alien to the mainstream of America; Manson, the visionary; and finally, Manson the maniac whose supreme test for his followers was butchery and mass-murder. What he promised them was a kind of black paradise on earth, totally within the experience of the senses; and most of these promises were redeemed through sex. He wrapped up his undisguised sadism into a good deal of mystic talk, half-baked parable and lunatic precept. Drugs were added to sex as another means of achieving the "mystic union with Evil that is the Supreme Good". It is a characteristic and odd fact that at the same time Manson dreamt of financial success, of acclaim and material reward through his music - which was utterly amateurish - and that the Sharon Tate murders may very well have been due to the frustration of these ambitions. But it is obvious that sex and drugs would not have been sufficient if he had not invented and elaborated an occult framework for them; a Manichean conception of Good and Evil, complimentary and each unable to exist without the other; a rehash of the ancient heresy that no one can be saved unless he has first sinned which inspired so many sects throughout history. As Craig Karpel put it in a discerning Esquire piece:

The acid vision blends the illusory vector from good to evil into a circle.

M'Naghten's Rule, a courtroom test of sanity, does not enter into it. Acid heads know very well the difference between right and wrong: it is the same as the difference between up and down, in and out, clockwise and counter, a direction rather than a directive. That is why the leader of the Family that is up for offing Tate, Sebring, Folker, Frykowski and Parent could be called, interchangeably, God, Satan and Jesus by his zombies. There are few acid moralists. What is, is good; and what isn't, why that's groovy too.

Thus the occult has been linked to sex and drugs and both have become fashionable - a trend and a fad within which evil is being celebrated "with a flair for accoutrement and ceremony that will be merchandized to all of us in time ..." As Karpel points out: "Already the beautiful New York ladies of Women's Wear Daily are wearing diamond-crusted crucifixes to ward off the fiend." This is, of course, a far cry from the fumblings of the white-haired medium in South London or even the breezy sales-talk of the lady-clairvoyant in Park Lane.

The dominating element in this half-mystic, half-hippy combination, is of course LSD or acid - the hallucinogenic drug that can be made at home from readily available chemicals after the briefest study of its preparation and has a fantastic potency in minute quantities. It inevitably links the psychic experiences of a "trip" with sex - even though in most cases it is sex-fantasy rather than actual fornication for acid, like most other drugs, is only a very temporary aphrodisiac and actually reduces the libido; or rather, turns it inward. As a Los Angeles Bible salesman told Tom Burke:

"If you sense an evil here, you are right, and I'll tell you what it is: too many people turned on to add. If you make a habit of tripping - well, acid is so spiritual, so uh, metaphysical, that you are going to be forced into making a choice, between opting for good, staying on a goodness or Christian trip, and tripping with the Lord Satan. That's the whole heavy thing about too many people turned on to acid: to most of them, the devil just looks groovier. Acid is incredible - I've been on one hundred and seventy-two trips now - but it shouldn't be available to everybody and anybody ... Acid does expand the mind. I believe in powers that you can't explain..."

Confused, uneducated, conceited (for he, of course, is one of the elect to whom LSD should be available, who can control his reactions), these few sentences are highly revealing. They are the verbal and simplified equivalent of the young man's action who, under the influence of LSD, stepped on a Hollywood freeway and tried to stop the traffic - because he firmly believed that he had the power to do so. Of course, he was reduced to a mangled heap of flesh within a minute or so. Or the young girl who, standing in the middle of a room in New York, on the twenty-seventh floor, suddenly exclaimed: "I can fly! I can fly!" and before anybody could stop her, vaulted over the windowsill and plunged to death on the pavement below. Acidheads, LSD addicts, are increasingly getting involved in occult practices and cults - and many of them wear large gold crosses to ward off the very evil which they worship and court.

In America many of these addicts are sons and daughters of wealthy or even extremely rich parents who can indulge their various strange passions. You see them in California and in Florida, in Cape Cod and in Chicago, in New York and in Nevada; they are highly mobile. Their wealth has a high visibility even if its source is obscure.

One of the most striking and most outlandish characters in this constantly ebbing and flowing pageant is a woman who calls herself Princess Leda Amuh Ra, neatly combining Greek and Egyptian mythology, the daughter of Tyndaerus, King of Sparta and the mistress of Zeus who impregnated her in the shape of a swan and of the Sun God of the Nile. One of her hangouts is a huge and private nightclub on La Cienega Boulevard, within a short drive of the famous Sunset Strip. It is called, fittingly enough, the Climax. There the privileged members sprawl on velveteen divans while ancient horror films featuring vampires are projected on the ceiling; or jerking and quivering in front of a twenty-foot high Satan's head, its eyes daubed with luminous paint. All this is more than a little reminiscent of the two adjoining, now defunct nightclubs of Montmartre (near the Place Pigalle) called Ciel and Enfer which combined witty obscenity with broad blasphemy. Here, sometimes, Princess Leda appears - and she is certainly a good deal more authentic than the phoney erotic setting. Her body is covered with black feathers that appear to sprout from her dead-white skin; her bare breasts (magnificently firm) are little restrained with gold fishnet. She has ebony hair and huge, crazed eyes. As she dances, she seems to invoke the combined ghosts of Salome and Lilith, Cleo de Merode and all the sex-symbols of the past centuries, including our own.

The Acid Goddess, as Burke called her, has a male companion, a dashing young man who might be Mister Universe, dressed in red tights and top boots, his frilly shirt open to the waist, a sword in a scabbard on his lean hip. He is supposed to be an astrologist who charges a thousand dollars for a brief and perfunctory reading. He likes to be called the King just as she is merely known as the Princess. In a city where everybody is playing a part (in the hope that one day she or he might be called to do so in front of a camera) these two walk wrapped in mystery, an aura of decadent and yet powerful sexuality which is nourished by drugs and the occult. And Leda plays her part to the hilt, as Tom Burke's graphic description makes it only too clear, presenting the scene which he has been allowed to witness in the Princess's "castle" high above Hollywood:

"... The boudoir, painted predominantly black, is large, but the bed is almost too large for it - wide as two Y.W.C.A. rooms side by side, canopied in black bombazine. In the bed, the Princess Leda Amun Ra, doe naked, her skin dusted with pumice, or volcanic ash. She lies on her back, her legs splayed. Her thighs are firm as a girl's. Between her thighs is a full-grown black swan, its neck arched like a cobra's, its yellow eyes fixed, amazed. It makes one harsh, comic noise, like an echo from a rain forest.

"'I will conceive,' the Princess shouts, heaving joyously. Half a dozen people have come into the room by now. No one else makes a sound. No one laughs; no one even smiles."

Occultism and sex also merge in the various varieties of Satan worship and witchcraft; and these have not only endured into the sixties but seem to be developing and spreading. Much of it is just slightly ridiculous and childish pretense, self-conscious and deliberate "naughtiness". Others are much more intense and much more dangerous. Like the Hollywood party where guests were received at the door with a welcoming drink - a bit of acid and a pinch of strychnine mixed in tomato juice which at least had the colour of blood. They had to empty the cup before they were admitted - for everybody had to be "tripping". Inside three altars were set up; two of them had young, nude boys tied to them with wide leather belts, being whipped by two bearded men dressed in nun's habits, looking more than a little incongruous but very determined. For whips they were using heavy black rosaries - and there was no make-believe about the flogging for both boys were screaming and weeping. The middle altar held a girl, barely in her teens, with her arms and legs spread-eagled. A tall man wearing a goat's head was crushing a live frog on her sex and then started to carve a small cross on her naked stomach - just a shallow, superficial cut. Later the party became both wilder and more ritualistic: the young girl was deflowered in a long and elaborately blasphemous procedure and then proceeded to retaliate on the goat-headed chief satanist with the help of a plastic dildo; this was followed by a kind of rock concert with songs whose lyrics were childishly yet persistently sacrilegious and it all ended with the declamation of a visionary creed by the "Anti-Christ" which could only shock those who hadn't read the late nineteenth-century decadents and Satanists.

The Anti-Christ is also a leading character in "the Art of Evil" which neatly links sex and the occult. Its practitioners - some of them not without talent - believe that the Second Coming has already taken place but instead of Jesus it is the False Messiah that has returned. (And here they go back to the legend of Zwi Sabatai, the Jewish False Messiah who was both a historical and legendary figure and played a decisive role in the diaspora's philosophical and religious development.) It is both amusing and characteristic that this reincarnated Satan was supposed to have chosen Hollywood Hills for his headquarters whence he was supposed to have spread his tentacles throughout the world. He is served, so some of his believers claim, by an international organization called the Devilmen who have admitted Satan into their bodies and souls and work for him. (This time a leaf is taken from the book propagating the totally fictional existence of the Elders of Zion, the anti-Bible of the Nazis and anti-Semites; a fabrication that has survived a dozen total proofs of its complete phoniness.) This organization or league is supposed to have become a secret World Power whose members hold key positions in all major governments. But there is still hope for the forces of Virtue and Goodness; the Cross will triumph over vampires and devils.

It would not be America if all this, the close relationship of the drug-achieved psychic experience and sex did not have its elaborate and profitable commercial side. Indeed, the three elements: hallucinogens, witchcraft (whether based on black or white magic) and sex in its most permissive, least inhibited forms, fuse into big business. Whether your special interest is reincarnation, numerology, the Cabala, astrology or karmic law, it is all catered for by scores of shops and hundreds of merchandize items. Crucifixes are sold to the "straight believers" and upside-down crosses to the Satanists. Zodiacal signs are brought by all and sundry; so are voodoo candles and love charms, amulets and incense. Today there are, according to a specialist, well over a thousand bookshops in Western Europe and the United States that specialize in occult literature and in America alone their sales have tripled over the recent years. The owner of the Magical Mystery Museum in Los Angeles who calls himself Arch-Druid Morloch, Bishop F.A.M. (Family of the Ancient Mind) is proud of his large collection of "witchcraft items" and never lacks students at his "college" which offers no less than thirty courses in the occult. He believes that "the public wants to know more about the occult but will only be attracted by the spectacular". Certainly the goods on sale in some of the shops fulfil this requirement - from the carved devil's rosary, versions of the Egyptian ankh (symbol of life and fertility), to the all-seeing eyes, focusing spiritual aspirations; from satanic crosses, usually worn next to the skin; to Lucifer charms used in "summoning the lower sexual spirits". The Minotaur is a particularly popular "love-sex-and-lust" charm and is often combined with a white disc, the replica of the seal of Solomon, representing the highest magical powers of the Cabala. And so it goes, with prices ranging from a few shillings to several hundred dollars. Add to it the various long playing records devoted to the same subject of which the Rolling Stones' recent Witchcraft is proclaimed on the sleeve as guaranteed to "destroy minds and reap souls ..." The same shop that will sell you an ouija board or an "incantatory instrument" will also provide a mojo-bag love charm consisting of "love powder", pure mercury, "Lucky John, the Conqueror, a root" and "love oil". Truly, whether in New York or in London, in Paris or in Franfurt; you are never too far from your "friendly neighbourhood purveyor" of occultism and sex.

Source: Beyond the Senses: a Report on Psychical Research in the Sixties (London and Toronto: Souvenir Press, J. M. Dent & Son, 1971) by Paul Tabori and Phyllis Raphael.

 

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