Below is the letter I sent to the Lake County Sherriff's office regarding a local grave robbery.
It was way too long and I realized while writing it I was really trying to hash out my feelings regarding the influence of Q-Anon in re-branding and kick-starting the Satanic Panic.
If you see the media or law enforcement or those in education misrepresenting Satanism, please, contact Central Admin. The Church of Satan Priesthood and agents are authorized to clarify these issues.
Dear Lt. Herrell,
My name is Ygraine Osborn-Mitchell and for almost 40 years I have worked as an advocate and expert on alternative and occult religions. I have guest lectured at several Florida police academies on the topics of ritual crime and religious civil rights. My qualifications are available should you request them, but suffice to say I was hired as an expert on the occult by both Governor Martinez in 1990, and Governor Chiles in 1993. My duty and goal, as a citizen and a member of the clergy of one of these alternative belief systems (www.churchofsatan.com), is to provide the public, and even more importantly those in positions of power, with facts. As you are no doubt aware, it wasn't so very long ago that misinformation, shameless exaggeration, and stereotypes encouraged the Satanic Panic and its accompanying bigotry resulted in damage to the lives of thousands of peaceful citizens.
As a human being, a Florida resident, and as a Satanic Witch, I am disgusted that anyone would trespass, vandalize the property of others, and with no regard to the families of the deceased, desecrate graves. You might not be aware that those acts are in direct contradiction to Satanic law. There is no ritual in Satanism that requires such barbarism, and the same is true for the vast majority of Neo-Pagan, Wiccan, and Occult religions practiced today. Unfortunately, that truth is nowhere near as exciting to the masses, and therefore is rejected by them, in lieu of lurid and bloody tales they have heard about from the pulpit or seen in the movies. This makes your job so very important in terms of protecting the citizenry who practice these faiths. Your position provides legitimacy and authority that most will accept without question.
I would like you to understand how problematic, and potentially dangerous, using the word "ritual" is in regards to crime. I read this quote in no less than six separate media sources, and can assume that tens of thousands have read it by now:
“Detectives and crime scene investigators responded to the scene and began the investigation and found evidence that suggests that this incident is very likely tied to some form of ritualistic activity,” Herrell said.
There are two important issues to address.
The first is that the word ritual, when used in a criminal context, immediately (and wrongly) evokes Satanism and Witchcraft to the populace. I can promise you that most readers of that quote have subconsciously and in some cases consciously determined that Satanists (a term that sociologically, anthropologically, and in religious parlance applies only to those who practice the atheistic religion of Satanism as defined in The Satanic Bible) committed a serious and horrible crime in their neighborhood. That determination often leads to fear, which often leads to responses that put innocent people in danger. I wish I could say I only know this from study, but during the Satanic Panic I was assaulted in my home, my children were terrorized, my cat was killed by a neighbor, my business was vandalized constantly, including a car driving through a plate glass window and a man described as a "good Christian" ejaculated on my door. I closed my business when the Port St. Lucie police, who I had lectured and consulted for, informed me that a man had bought a sniper rifle at a local pawnshop and mentioned that he was going to send the witch straight to Hell.
To those who never hear otherwise, particularly from authority figures, only bad people perform rituals. They have no way of knowing that The Satanic Bible/Satanism strictly prohibits the violation of laws, and demands that Satanists never harm animals or children and that unlike virtually every other religion the Church of Satan automatically terminates the memberships of those who violate the law & the rights of others. They don't know that our church has worked with law enforcement in prosecuting occultists who have violated the law and have consulted on crimes that seem to have occult overtones.
None of that matters once the word ritual is used to describe a crime. The public automatically assumes the Satanists did it. This makes our lives so difficult that the vast majority of us keep our religion to ourselves, allowing the public to believe they don't actually know any Satanists, prolonging the negative assumptions, but protecting us, creating a Catch-22 of epic proportions.
This brings me to the second issue.
In 1992 the FBI released a groundbreaking report on Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA), written by and named for Kenneth Lanning. The report concluded there wasn't any. There wasn't a shred of evidence to support the crazy stories of breeders and sacrifice, and all those who made allegations were deemed to have done so for attention and getting in on the Satanic Panic industry that supported unethical therapists, pastors, publishers, and motivational speakers with millions of dollars. Most genuine crimes that had SRA features turned out to be committed by teens and the mentally ill, whose entire understanding of Satanism came from churches and movies.
This realization led to the conclusion that certain criteria would need to be present at a crime scene for a crime to be considered Satanic/Occult/SRA.
1. The scene must have evidence of occult symbology or religious paraphernalia. Often the symbols will be wrong because they came from Christian sources. The most obvious example of this is pentacles, pentagrams, and/or reversed crosses spray-painted at the scene. While these symbols certainly prove the perp believes he is doing a magical act, or desperately wants a mundane crime to be viewed as having magical significance, there is no ritual in Satanism, Wicca, or Any of the Neo-Pagan religions that demands a crime as a ritual component. Regardless, without some symbology, there is virtually nowhere to begin in seeking an occult connection.
2. There has to be a purpose for the crime within the framework of the alternative belief structure. This is particularly important in determining if the crime is a necessary component of a ritual with a specific result in mind, or, much more frequently, if creating a scene that LOOKS like it had ritual purpose is the point in and of itself, to cover up a crime that is mundane in nature. Alternative religions may be the minority but they still have all the features of traditional ones, including holy books and writings, and more importantly, they have rules. There are 8 books that make up the canon of Satanism. You will find pages of philosophy, history, and yes, rituals. You won't find a single one that requires a body part. Researching a crime and cross-referencing it to its relevance to a specific religion is required in order to claim a crime is ritualistically inspired.
3. The perpetrator is found to be a member or practitioner of the religion that appears to have inspired the crime. It isn't sufficient that the perp once took out a book on demonology from the library or watched The Omen 48 times. In the internet age, there is no need for people with unusual belief systems to be alone, and human beings are social animals who gravitate towards others of a similar mindset. There are over 350 recognized religions in the USA, and if a crime is considered to be religiously motivated it is important to link the criminal to the religion that allegedly inspired the crime.
The media reports do not mention what specifically was at the crime scene that led you to call the crime ritualistic, but I have to assume, if the reports are accurate, that the missing head might have a shocking enough effect to lead those investigating to consider it. However, were I to seek a much more earthly motive, the fact that human skulls sell on ebay for thousands of dollars leaps to mind. Nat. Geo. Market for Skulls. Still, I realize there may be features of the crime scene I am unaware of. As listed above, perhaps there were symbols, ritual tools, or other evidence. There is no occult holiday on December 5th, and the moon phase (waning) had no ritual significance.
While my vocation is to educate, my intentions are selfish. We easily see the connection between current events and our day to day lives, as the events of the day can change everything from the price of food to the potential for war. The social and political climate, while never great for people like me who walk a different path, has recently taken a decidedly more ominous turn. If those in authority can, through education, be aware that real people can be really hurt by something as seemingly inconsequential as the use of the word “ritual” I can help myself, my family, and those in mine and other alternative religions.
The previous Satanic Panic is now being reborn within the Q-Anon phenomena. Yesterday’s “breeder vans,” and “mobile crematoriums” are now pedophile pizzerias and Deep State power structures. Perhaps even more frightening is the amount of people who believe it, and that becomes a critical issue for impressionable teens, the emotionally handicapped and the mentally ill.
Those people are highly influenced by, and at the same time are awfully resentful of, authority figures in their lives. Few hold more sway than ministers and pastors who act as the surrogate of God on Earth, and stand in front and above while discussing their perception of alternative/occult religions. They don't tell their flock that the motto of Satanism is "Study, not worship," but instead paint Satanism as one long party, orgies and blasphemy, and freedom to do whatever one wants. If that wasn’t attractive enough, many have incorporated “Q-Theory” as well, and made us seem unbelievably powerful. The pastors, speakers, and pundits think they are scaring their followers about Hell. Instead, to those with various mental issues, they have painted an exciting, mysterious, and freeing portrait that seems to provide a life of power and excitement.
My church, the Church of Satan does not actively recruit members. We also do not accept minors for membership, and we turn away many who have accepted the traditional church and Q definitions, but we did not create the few monsters who perform horrible acts in the name of the devil.
As atheists who see Satan merely as a metaphor or archetype, Satanists do not perform sacrifices because there is no one to sacrifice to, but any church in America will tell you that we perform sacrifice. They will tell you we worship the biblical version of the devil (we don't worship anyone, and nothing in the Holy Bible interests us) and commit atrocities. In other words, when we actually (and mercifully rarely) see genuinely gruesome crime scenes with symbols and candles and the like it is inevitably the work of those we call Christian Heretics or are more commonly referred to as Devil Worshippers. They are not members of any recognized alternative religion, and they genuinely believe in the Holy Bible and its mythology. They are, however, impressed, excited, and attracted to the false version of satanism their ministers, their podcast and radio hosts and their families have told them about.
I realize I just went down a really long road to say that almost without exception what passes for ritual crime is committed by either mentally ill/emotionally compromised (heretical) Christian OR screwed up teens influenced by movies and boredom.
Mentally ill people are unlikely to pay for the word "ritual" however. Rather, as the Q phenomena grows, those of us in non-traditional religions are again finding ourselves in the crosshairs. We’ve become a lightning rod for those who have become even more religious during this difficult time. There is more than a little chance we will face more than our usual quota of discrimination and bigotry when a compromised individual decides it might be a service to humanity, or even an act of faith to God, to remove someone who performs 'rituals.'
This might seem paranoid to anyone who has never been on the receiving end of religious bigotry, but for those of us who suffered through the Satanic Panic, and I mean the word suffer both literally and figuratively, it is the natural, albeit terrifying, progression of human behavior fueled with fear, distrust, and the seeming agreement of the legal authorities.
What I am asking from you, now and in the future, is to accept that your office serves a religiously diverse population, many of whom choose to remain hidden for their own safety, while others are comfortable letting their "freak flag fly.” We are vulnerable through no fault of our own and need our law enforcement agencies to see us not as a fringe sub-culture upon whom blame is easily placed, but as citizens doing nothing more than what every other American does by exercising our 1st Amendment rights.
Regardless, I promise you this, unlike any other religious group, should it become clear that anyone in our ranks has committed this or any other crime, WE will turn them in and assist in their prosecution.
Magistra, Church of Satan
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