Maria is the woman who contacted me through my Village Voice advertisement and mentioned in the chapter "The Curse On The Catholic Church." In her sixties, Maria is a very well groomed, handsome woman, in perfect health, good-humored and describes herself as a "Militant witch." She lives alone in an Eastside New York apartment not too far from her friend The Baron. Widowed for the past fifteen years she has two grown children, a son and a daughter, both married with children of their own.

LLM: Are your children witches too? Do they share in your beliefs?

Maria: Yes, we're very close. My son lives in California. My daughter lives in Washington. By every definition of the Catholic Church who burned my ancestors at the stake they and I would be considered witches. My children lead very normal lives. They don't practice witchcraft in the usual sense, and there's nothing to distinguish them from other people. Both my children are active in Civil Rights and in Libertarian causes. Neither of them go in for the usual rituals associated with Witchcraft. They accept it psychologically and with friends joke about being witches. It's a mental attitude ... a way of life ... the same as when someone refers to himself as a Christian. Philosophically we're in complete agreement.

Pretty women were often plagued by the devil in medieval times. Here, in an unusual instance, the devil is tempting the woman from behind.

Professionally of course neither my son nor my daughter can afford to let others know about this. Their spouses are in complete sympathy. I've been very fortunate in that both my children are happily married. All of us despise the Catholic Church as evil. We curse it every day of our lives.

LLM: Can you tell me something about your ancestors? Who were they? Where did they come from?

Maria: My ancestors came from the town of Albi, in France. We became known as Albigenses. We belonged to a sect that called itself the Cathari, meaning pure. (Note: In psychoanalysis a catharsis means an emotional "cleaning out.") They taught that the God of the Old Testament was really Satan, that Jesus was the good God, and all of them refused to eat any meat except fish. They didn't believe in baptism but in Consolation, which was the "laying on of hands." This was the initiation. One of my ancestors belonged to an inner group called the Perfect who vowed themselves to celibacy. They were ascetics.

Pope Innocent III in 1208 preached a crusade against the Albigenses. Under Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, there was a twenty year reign of terror in which thousands were murdered, hanged, pillaged and burnt, by these Christian Crusaders. It was in 1232 when the Inquisition was set up to destroy what the Church called a heresy. Anyone or any group who had any ideas contrary to those approved by Rome were slaughtered. Pope Innocent what an obscenity! My ancestors were murdered by this madman, this Middle Age Nazi, and he and every one of his successors should be called Pope Guilty. My ancestors were true Christian martyrs, true saints, and it's to them that we pray.

LLM: Then at the beginning you were not so much witches as you were Christian ascetics?

Maria: True. But one of my ancestors, with the same name as myself, Maria, was a very unusual person. She knew all about herbs and natural medicines and told fortunes. She was so popular in Albi, so many people came to her, that the local priest was jealous and when the Inquisition was set up in 1232 she was accused of witchcraft, tortured, and then burned at the stake. She cursed all of them even while dying on the stake. Whole towns were wiped out. It's a miracle that any of us survived. The only way we did was because some of my ancestors joined religious orders of monks and nuns and when things calmed down they left and married. Our story has been handed down to us from generation to to generation. You can learn more about us by reading Lea's History of The Inquisition ... by "us" I mean the Albigenses.

LLM: Have you practiced the Black Mass?

Maria: Yes, of course, But as The Baron told you we don't consider it evil in the least. We have no sense of guilt about "blaspheming" the so-called sacred Mass or Eucharist. As I told you my cousin is a priest. He's a brilliant and a brave man. One day soon he will be ready to make his move. For years he has collected data, documents and files on the inner workings of the Catholic Church. Unbeknownst to the other priests he tape-recorded many of their conversations about politics and policies, especially one by his bishop. He has a very mathematical, scientific mind, and is very good with figures. Because of this he was put in charge of finances. He's kept records ... two sets of books ... one officially for the church, the other for himself. He intends to publish all of this one day.

He had made duplicate copies of everything and they're in a vault with instructions of what is to be done with this material in case he should suddenly die before he leaves the priesthood. The things he's told us about the priests and their girlfriends, and some with boyfriends, would shock most Catholics into becoming Atheists. He was a good friend of Father (name omitted) who has since left the church, married and wrote that book. Of course Father (name omitted) knows nothing about my cousin's background or motives or reasons for being a priest.

LLM: Of course you're no longer a practising Catholic.

Maria: Oh! But I am! I attend Mass every Sunday at St. Patrick's Cathedral. I go to Confession. The difference between me and other "practicing" Catholics is that I don't swallow the Eucharist. I take it out by placing my handkerchief in front of my mouth. No one knows the difference. I bring it home and either keep it for our Black Mass when our coven gets together or I ritually stab it in the name of my murdered ancestors, in the name of the Christ who supposedly died to save us and instead permitted millions to die in order to save His name. And let me tell you, I only wish that it was true that it was the body and blood of Jesus Christ as the Church teaches.

I'd have no hesitation in spilling the blood of a God or a Christ who permitted so much bloodshed in their names. I'd gladly go to hell for it. Unfortunately, we know for a fact that this is all hogwash, a lie to keep simple minded, guilt-ridden Catholics and other Christians spiritually enslaved. I don't believe in hell. I don't believe in anything that the Church calls sacred. Their very existence is a sacrilege.

As for my being a quote practicing Catholic unquote, well I've never met a truly practicing Catholic in all of my sixty seven years and I've known thousands. They all went through the rituals, went to Mass, Holy Communion, married, if possible, in the church, had their children baptized, went to Confession, and lived lives the complete opposite of everything they claimed to believe in.

LLM: Yes, I've noticed that too. I've found that the ones who defend their religious beliefs the most violently are the same ones who least practice their religion. The more militant they are in defense of their religion the more I've noticed that these same people were the most immoral in their personal lives. It's a defense against their own guilt.

Maria: How right you are! Bravo! Look at the Catholic opposition to birth control and legalized abortion in this country a perfect example of a religious viewpoint being forced upon everyone else in a supposedly secular society. And one of their claims about "taking the life of an unborn child" being the main reason for the opposition. Where was this pious concern for human life when they murdered millions during the Inquisition, the Crusades and in their "Holy" wars? They're nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. Or maybe they're saying "Don't you kill your own child. Raise him as another contributing Catholic to the Church. And maybe someday we can once again have the power and the exclusive privilege of killing him for you."

LLM: Yes, the Pope's last encyclical Popularum Progressio (On The Development of People) said that private property was not an exclusive right and that richer nations should help poorer nations, yet the Catholics in New York spent over a million dollars to defeat the Abortion Reform Bill ... how many starving people in the world could this have kept alive ... yet this money was spent to supposedly save the unborn while thousands in Biafra died of starvation. I've always maintained that the attempt of Catholics to impose their beliefs legislatively on others is really an underestimation and a distrust of their own fellow Catholics and of themselves. They should know. But tell me, Maria, how do you use witchcraft in your daily life?

Maria: I'll give you one example. About a month ago while attending Mass with this phony old bag who parades her religion like some sort of banner of achievement, I concentrated on her falling down just before she got to the altar. Before we entered the church I said to her "Watch your step now. Don't fall."

When the witches returned from the sabbath they would change their shape to avoid outside curiosity from onlookers or the police. They, however, did not always succeed in camouflaging themselves and many at the request of the Inquisition were burnt alive.

Of course I used suggestion. That's what one part of witchcraft is all about. Well this bitch ... note I said bitch, not witch ... I wouldn't pay her that compliment! ... got up to go to Holy Communion mustering all the sanctity that she could conjure up in that dilapidated puss of hers, so preoccupied with having others think of her as a "pure soul" that she stumbled and landed right on her ass ... The ass! I had to control myself not to burst out laughing. Later I was at my most sympathetic when I said to her "It's a good thing that you were in a state of grace otherwise you could have broken a leg!" A state of grace is the one thing that old bag has never been in. (At this we both burst out laughing and she went into the kitchen to pour two more cups of coffee!)

LLM: What do you think of some of the publicized witches and the growing attraction to it?

Maria: I don't think too much about them one way or another. I believe in ... what's the popular expression? .. oh yes! ... letting them "do their own thing." As far as I'm concerned the more the merrier. As you know genuine covens are conducted in the nude. It seems that many of today's young people are practicing their own "hip" version of witchcraft, especially the public disrobing on streets, in the park, on stage etc. Their total alienation from established religions. Their pursuit of mysticism and other occult matters.) I don't say that they're completely right but they certainly can't be any more wrong than their elders ... that's for damn sure! Then too, many of them identify with the underdog and when they read the history of the Inquisition and other injustices committed by the Established Authorities they want no part of such evil.

LLM: The claim has been made that the witches' broomstick is a phallic symbol. Do you agree?

Maria: Of course it is. So are the candles burned in churches, the steeples, the domes, the cuppolas, in fact the cross itself is a phallic symbol!

LLM: Do you think that in most religious rituals, including witchcraft, that there is an underlying sexuality?

Maria: Definitely. Of course it's repressed or unconscious for the most part I truly believe that all psychic power has its source in sexuality. And why not? Sex is the basis of life. It is the first creative act from which all other creative acts spring. Even in this Age of Enlightenment psychiatrists haven't been able to completely understand all the facets about sex. Look at homosexuality. You find as many different theories as to its cause as there are psychiatrists. Primitive man must have been in awe of his own body, especially the genitals which seemed to have a magical "mind of their own."

You can easily see from this how he projected himself into all kinds of magical images, totems and the like. Today these would be called phallic symbols. The idea of the Resurrection of the body, celebrated on Easter Sunday, is a pre-Christian belief and may have had its origin in antiquity in primitive man's awe over the rise and fall ... the resurrection ... of his own male organ. The belief in a life after death originated in the dreams of primitive men who saw and talked with their dead relatives and friends while asleep. The magician's wand, the musician's baton, the witch's broomstick, the candles used in most religions ... all of them are phallic symbols. Why these particular shapes? Why not a palm leaf or fan instead of a baton, wand or broomstick? Why circular candles? Why not square ones?

LLM: I've met some persons who claimed to be witches but they had no power whatsoever, least of all over themselves. They seemed unhappy hate-filled people, insignificant, and were trying to claim an unearned ability. Have you ever encountered any of these types?

Maria: Yes, I have. I know exactly what you mean. They're not exactly phonies, though some are, but miserable little souls who try to work on the fears of others, who really hate their fellowmen and most of all themselves, the kind who leave dead rats on doorsteps or send bloodstained handkerchiefs through the mail. Funny thing ... not one of them was ever able to recognize me as a witch. A true witch can tell another ... it's a psychic thing ... something like the communication that exists between a man and a woman who are attracted to each other. And you're right, these people are trying to gain a power over others because they themselves have nothing to offer. Mindless souls burdened with guilts usually fall into their clutches ... the same thing with those Gypsies who fell women that their money is cursed and fleece them out of their life savings. They're not witches, just shrewd operators, really criminals, yet these are the ones who the public thinks of when they hear "witch". Some of them are psychic, have some ability, but it's not very well developed ... if it was they wouldn't be such miserable and unhappy creatures.

LLM: What do you think is the future of witchcraft?

Maria: It will one-day be the leading religion but it will never be an organized religion. It will reclaim its heritage. And it won't be Christianized Witchcraft, those stupid stories and unbelievable confessions gotten by torture during the Inquisition. Those poor souls confessed to anything just to be relieved of their agony. What the Church called Witchcraft was really a projection of their own evil souls and had absolutely nothing to do with Witchcraft as the Old Religion. Many modern witches are still the victims of what the Church called a Witch. They're not practicing the Witchcraft Religion but the Christian version of it. In other words they're practicing Christianity in reverse!

LLM: What you're saying is that some of these witches aren't really witches that exist independently, but are or become what the Church and society believes them to be?

Maria: That's right! They're Christian Witches. The image of the witch that most people have, including atheists, is the one invented by the Church and accepted without question by the public. For instance: There are millions of people in the U.S. alone who have either moles or birthmarks on their bodies. During the Inquisition this was considered the sign of a witch! Any person who was unusual in any way, whether a genius or a moron, any person bora with some kind of defect ... clubfoot, crossed eyes, harelip, a mongoloid child ... this was either a sign of sin, a pack with Satan or proof of being a witch. Another thing: Any person who kept one or more animals in his home was highly suspected of being a witch. It amuses me to think about how many people who condemn witches as either evil or nonsense would themselves have been burning at the stake if they lived during the Inquisition!

Circle of Cleopatra

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