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One of the weirdest historical confluences you can imagine took place in Pasadena, California, in the 1940s. There, a darkly handsome young man and chemistry autodidact named Jack Parsons had just made a bundle of money by inventing solid rocket fuel and selling it to the military. He was part of a group of explosion-obsessed researchers at CalTech who founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where recently the Martian Rovers were made. He was also a goddess-obsessed acolyte and generous financial supporter of the infamous Pagan leader, Aleister Crowley. Parsons used his defense contract money to convert an old mansion into a group house whose residents included other Pagans, artists, scientists, and writers. One of his boarders was a charismatic science fiction author named L. Ron Hubbard, who became Parsons’ greatest frenemy, participating in rituals of sex magic with the rocket scientist, sleeping with his girlfriend, and finally absconding with all his money. It’s the true story of how Scientology and JPL were both conceived by men under the Satanic sorcerer Aleistar Crowley’s mystical influence.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, to connect with me on social media, and more!
Coming up in this episode…
A house in the Altamaha River Swamp in Georgia becomes darker and more dangerous than the swamp itself. (A Terrifying Haunting in Georgia)
Was a well known UFOlogist murdered shortly before a scheduled speech he was about to give? (The Bleached Computer of a UFO Researcher)
Some believe we all have a guardian angel watching over us. One infamous yet respected witch hunter many years ago wrote that we all – each one of us – have a personal demon. And many people believed him. (The Demon Witch Hunter)
For some time now, Area 51 has been seen as ground zero for conspiracies and government coverups. However, a plot of land in Utah has started to attract much of the same kind of attention. Welcome to Dugway – also known as Area 52. (Welcome to Area 52)
Scientology is already scary and mysterious – which may not be surprising once you learn how much black magic had to do with its creation. (Scientology and the Occult)
But first… the creator of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, was so fascinated by the occult, he believed he was the actual devil himself… and was even upset when his own son turned out to not be the antichrist. We begin there. (The Devil L. Ron Hubbard)
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: DEVIL HUBBARD=====
Was L. Ron Hubbard the Devil? To people who adamantly fight against the cult of Scientology, he may be. But what many folks may not know about the science-fiction-novelist-turned-religious-leader is that Scientology is based off of black magic. Hubbard discovered the teachings of famed occultist Aleister Crowley and applied them to his own made-up religion.
Hubbard became obsessed with the teachings of Crowley after meeting rocket scientist and satanist Jack Parsons on a trip to California, . Hubbard spent a few years working with Parsons to create the West Coast arm of the OTO (The Ordo Templi Orientis – Crowley’s magical cabal), but that partnership soon went awry as the two wrestled for control of the group. All the ways Scientology is linked to the occult may sound far-fetched at first, but given the organization’s bizarre beliefs, it makes a twisted sort of sense.
Hubbard’s eldest son, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, Jr., left Scientology in 1959. He changed his name to Ronald DeWolf and began to expose his father for the charlatan he was. DeWolf spent the first part of his life eating, drinking, and breathing Scientology and knew his father inside and out. In a 1983 interview with Penthouse, DeWolf said his father was “deeply involved in the occult and black magic.”
DeWolf also told Penthouse “Black magic is the inner core of Scientology,” and that Hubbard didn’t worship Satan… “He thought he was Satan.” Much like Aleister Crowley, Hubbard believed by taking part in his black magic rituals he bacame the Devil: “He thought of himself as the Beast 666 incarnate.”
In multiple interviews, Hubbard’s son Ronald DeWolf claimed to have seen his father carrying out a variety of classic satanic rituals. In a 1983 interview with Penthouse, DeWolf said he walked in on his father either committing a child sacrifice or attempting to abort a baby with a clothes hanger.
Dewolf said when he was only six years old, he walked in on Hubbard sitting on top of his mother and performing an “abortion ritual” on her. He doesn’t say how often this happened, but if it was a “ritual,” it likely happened more than once.
Scientology is a shadowy group, and it’s hard to discover exactly what’s in its upper echelons. Most people are aware OT Level III reveals the existence of “Xenu,” an evil alien who Hubbard claimed had trapped our souls on Earth. But there’s a higher OT level that allegedly reveals Hubbard created the Church of Scientology in order to bring about the Antichrist.
In 1988, the first people who paid the $28,000 to go to Level VIII allegedly discovered Hubbard was claiming to be the Antichrist. Hubbard wrote: “[The] Antichrist represents the forces of Lucifer (literally, the “light bearer” or “light bring”), Lucifer being a mythical representation of the forces of enlightenment, the Galactic Confederacy. My mission could be said to fulfill the Biblical promise represented by this brief Antichrist period.”
Later in the Level VIII passage, Hubbard wrote “Jesus was not nearly the sainted figure he has been made out to be. In addition to being a lover of young boys and men, he was given to uncontrollable bursts of temper and hatred that belied the general message of love.”
While Hubbard was living with rocket scientist/satanist Jack Parsons, the two men attempted to bring upon the “moonchild,” an astral child created through sex magic and then put into a physical womb. Once the child is born, it becomes Babalon, a warrior goddess.
Aleister Crowley allegedly unsuccessfully attempted to carry out the ritual, and in order to please their master, Parsons and Hubbard gave it a shot. The ritual calls for repeated masturbation, which Parsons tended to while Hubbard chanted incantations and took notes for later use.
The duo failed to bring about a moonchild, but apparently all of their mystical playing about made them a magnet for paranormal activity. The Parsons home supposedly became a wellspring of poltergeist activity. Disembodied voices echoed throughout the house and objects were knocked down and thrown around by an unknown entity.
Throughout his time with Jack Parsons and until he was living on a boat in international waters, L. Ron Hubbard was obsessed with the Antichrist. Prior to his death, Hubbard believed he was the Antichrist, but initially he felt he was meant to bring about the Antichrist through ritual sex magic.
Even after the “moonchild” ritual he attempted with Parsons failed, he was still attempting to put an astral child inside of a woman to no avail. His son Ronald DeWolf claims if Hubbard felt the child he had created wasn’t going to be the Antichrist, he would just abort it and try again.
DeWolf told Penthouse in 1983 that his father tried to abort him when he decided that the boy wasn’t going to bring about Hell on Earth: “According to him and my mother, he tried to do it with me. I was born at six and a half months and weighed two pounds, two ounces. I mean, I wasn’t born: this is what came out as a result of their attempt to abort me. It happened during a night of partying – he got involved in trying to do a black magic number.”
Scientology’s “New Era” logo – the two triangles with an S connecting them – is allegedly meant to symbolize “knowledge, responsibility and control,” but many theorists believe it means something much darker.
It’s been floated that the New Era logo goes all the way back to the moonchild ceremony attempted by Hubbard and Parsons – they tried to call down an astral child and put it in the body of a woman so she would give birth to the Antichrist. As a nod to Hubbard’s Satanic inspiration, the New Era logo contains two triangles, each of them with corners at 60 degrees; in Crowley’s numerology 60 becomes 6 and adds up to 666.
Scientology has a hierarchical structure where devotees work their way up to being “clear,” a state where you have no connection to your “reactive mind” or harmful memories from a past life. After becoming clear, they move “beyond clear” to become independent of their own bodies. To move through this structure, you have to pay more and more money in order to receive lessons from members of the church who can show you how to be OT I -VIII.
A similar pay structure existed in the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), where students of Crowley had to pay in order to move through the ranks and achieve enlightenment. In order to attend rituals with Crowley and his high priests and priestesses, one had to achieve a certain rank. Initiates who hadn’t achieved the “third degree” were left out in the cold until they could cough up the price of admittance.
By 1947, Aleister Crowley was destitute and in terrible health. At the same time, L. Ron Hubbard was just coming into his own as a practitioner of the dark arts and felt he should be next in line for the throne once Crowley passed.
Ronald DeWolf discussed his father’s desire to take Crowley’s version of black magic and increase its profit margins. While many of Crowley’s spells were said to take place over hours or days, Hubbard wanted to make those spells last a lifetime. DeWolf told Penthouse: “In Scientology [a spell is] stretched out over a lifetime, and so you don’t see it. Black magic is the inner core of Scientology – and it is probably the only part of Scientology that really works.”
If you’ve ever studied a building owned by the Church of Scientology, you may have noticed some strange symbols stamped across their facades. The most popular symbols are the crossed out cross and the New Era symbol (two overlapping triangles with an ‘S’). Both of these hint at their black magic origins and are essentially taken from Aleister Crowley.
The symbol for Thelema, a philosophy taught by Crowley, is a series of triangles all intersecting in a clover. It’s visually similar to Scientology’s cross overlaying another cross. The New Era symbol is reminiscent of Crowley and his obsession with Egyptian symbology.
The most obvious parallel that can be drawn between L. Ron Hubbard and Aleister Crowley is their shared obsession with sex and the control it gave them over their partners. Crowley believed when someone had an orgasm, they were breaking their consciousness and “opening it to the supersensual.” He believed in order to complete a magic spell, you had to do something physically painful or pleasurable as long as it helped: “attain a condition of exhaustion taken to the extreme limit.”
For Hubbard, sex was a way to control the followers of Scientology. His son said when someone joined the fold, “the first thing we [Scientology] wanted to know about someone we were auditing was his sexual deviations.” He said these sexual hangups would be used to force people to do whatever Hubbard wanted. “If you find that central core, their sexual drives and desires and fantasies, then you can fit a ring through their noses and take them anywhere.”
When you look at the practices of Aleister Crowley and those of L. Ron Hubbard, one major parallel is their distrust of therapists and the world of psychoanalysis. This is likely because they didn’t want their followers going to anyone but them for treatment. You see this kind of behavior with cult leaders from Jim Jones in Jonestown to Michel from the Buddhafield Cult.
Crowley wrote that psychoanalysis was “upholding a fraud… psychoanalysts have misinterpreted life, and announced the absurdity that every human being is essentially an anti-social, criminal, and insane animal.”
Hubbard would later write in Dianetics: “We discover psychoanalysis to have been superseded by tyrannous sadism, practiced by unprincipled men… This, then, is the end of the trail for psychoanalysis – a world of failure and brutality.”
Even though both men hated psychoanalysis, it was a major part of both of their practices. Both Crowley and Hubbard would use hypnosis and relaxation techniques to take their members back to a past life, which is a form of therapy called past life regression. Through this hypnosis, Hubbard would figure out what trauma had been implanted on you and if you paid him enough, he would help you get rid of your mental anguish.
There’s never been any proof L. Ron Hubbard ever met Aleister Crowley. The closest Hubbard ever got to the Beast 666 was through his friendship with Jack Parsons, the rocket scientist who had a genuine relationship with Crowley. At one point Parsons did write a letter to Crowley about Hubbard, saying he was the “most thelemic person I have ever met and is in complete accord with our principles,” but Crowley never reached out to Hubbard.
That didn’t stop Hubbard from making bold claims about his relationship with the high magician to anyone who would listen. In 1952, Hubbard was recorded giving a lecture where he said: “It’s fascinating work in itself, and that’s work written by Aleister Crowley, the late Aleister Crowley, my very good friend.”
Up next, we’ll look at another writer’s research into the creation of Scientology – with even more disturbing elements to reveal.
STORY: SCIENTOLOGY OCCULT=====
Like many high-tech entrepreneurs today, Jack Parsons never attended college. He spent most of his teenage years doing backyard experiments with rocket fuel, aided by a childhood friend who later worked with him at CalTech. Parsons’ brilliance with chemical compounds — and fearlessness in the face of explosions — helped him make friends at CalTech, where he became a researcher in the 1930s. By the late 1930s, he’d helped found JPL, invented solid rocket fuel, and was well on his way to becoming an international science superstar. He was also deep into a new project: reaching the highest level in Aleister Crowley’s mystical organization, the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO).
In a fascinating account of Parson’s life called Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons, John Carter recounts how Parsons claimed to have summoned Satan when he was 13 years old, in the late 1920s. This experience, which the scientist described as terrifying, was the beginning of a lifelong interest in the occult — an interest that became a fiery passion when he discovered the work of Crowley (pictured). Though both Parsons and Crowley mention Satan in their work, neither was a “Satan worshipper.” They were Pagans with a deeply libertarian streak (Crowley’s mystical slogan was “do what thou wilt”), who took hallucinogenic drugs and believed in free love long before the hippies discovered did. Crowley had followers all over the world, like Parsons, who corresponded with him, sent him money, and asked for spiritual guidance. Parsons was a Crowley favorite, however, and the young man rocketed through the ranks of the OTO.
By day, Parsons helped to create one of the greatest scientific institutions of our time, JPL, which has created and maintained dozens of space vessels over the past half-century. But by night, he and his housemates drove his neighbors nuts (several filed police reports) by lighting great bonfires in his backyard, and dancing in a state of near-nakedness. They were worshiping Crowley’s favorite entities. Parsons, for his part, preferred goddesses.
Parsons and his young girlfriend Betty — whom he’d been dating since she was 15 — were both smitten immediately by L. Ron Hubbard when the writer moved in with them. A war veteran who told crazy stories and eagerly lapped up Crowley’s spiritualism, Hubbard became Parson’s great ally in the scientist’s quest to incarnate the goddess Babalon on Earth. Babalon would be a bewitching redhead, who would eventually give birth to the Antichrist. In his book about Parsons, Carson describes Hubbard and Parsons’s joint rituals in great detail. Since Babalon was a sensual entity, raising her required Parsons to masturbate repeatedly, releasing his seed on a parchment while Hubbard chanted rituals and took notes. Often, Parson’s own notes on these rituals make mention of “invoking” with a “wand.”
It was magick, yes, but it was also the future founder of Scientology jerking off with the founder of JPL, in order to indirectly spawn the Antichrist. I think we can take this incredibly deranged situation as further evidence that Los Angeles has always been a weird place.
Hubbard wasn’t content to watch Parsons invoking the wand, so he began sleeping with Betty. Parsons and Betty had always had an open relationship, so this wasn’t particularly shocking to anyone, least of all Parsons. But Betty really fell for Hubbard. The two were inseparable. Luckily, the incarnation of Babalon arrived just in time to soothe any feelings of jealousy Parsons might have had. A red-headed artist named Marjorie Cameron came to visit her friend at Parsons’s house, and both Hubbard and Parsons became convinced she was Babalon. Though Cameron wasn’t interested particularly in Paganism, she was an adventurous woman who liked the idea of free love. Plus, Parsons was hot. So she happily moved in and started participating in Hubbard and Parson’s sex rituals.
Hubbard would chant and invoke the spirits while Parsons and Cameron had sex. The men believed they were summoning spirits and lightning with their incredible potency and sorcery, though Crowley was so disgusted by their antics that he called them “goats” in a letter. Eventually Cameron did become pregnant, but instead of spawning Satan, she decided to have an abortion.
As Cameron’s love affair with Parsons petered out, Hubbard’s relationship with Betty deepened. So did Hubbard’s fascination with the OTO. For those familiar with the basic outlines of Scientology, it will sound quite similar to the OTO. To achieve enlightenment, one ascended through many numerical “steps” on the way, gaining access to more secrets and rituals from Crowley as the apprenticeship went on. Giving money to Crowley was a good way to get more of his secrets, most of which involved achieving mystical power over one’s body and the physical world.
Scientology’s adherents likewise ascend through many steps on the path to cross the Void and become “clear,” which Hubbard promised would make them invulnerable to disease and capable of controlling other people’s actions. To achieve “clear,” however, Scientologists must give money and enact a number of rituals.
In his new book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, Lawrence Wright explains that the influence of Crowley and the OTO has long been a controversy within Scientology. Hubbard wrote Dianetics just a few years after his Pasadena escapades, and founded the Church of Scientology in the mid-1950s. His son Nibs has said that the OTO’s “black magic” was the “inner core” of Scientology, and Hubbard is also on record calling Crowley a “friend.” But Scientologists say there is no relationship between the two spiritual systems.
Still, it’s hard to deny that Crowley had a strong influence over Hubbard, and many of the trappings of the OTO’s system appear in altered form in Scientology. You might say that Scientology is the science fiction version of the supernatural horror that was the OTO. So the religions may be different genres, but they have a lot in common.
Once the war was over, Parsons began struggling with money. He tried to launch some businesses, but they sank. His old friends at CalTech had grown distant, but his new companion Hubbard offered a ray of hope. Hubbard suggested that he and Parsons go into business together selling boats. He’d worked on ships during the war, and was a fine captain; Hubbard and Betty would go to Florida, buy some ships, and sail them back to Los Angeles so the two men could sell them. So Parsons gave Hubbard his last $20 thousand, and saw his best friend and girlfriend off.
It seems that Hubbard never intended to make good on his promise, because as soon as he reached Florida he became unreachable. Weeks dragged by, and Parsons began to get angry. So he flew out to Florida, where Hubbard and Betty had bought a boat and were literally pushing off from port when Parsons arrived. The spurned and broke scientist sued Hubbard, and also wrote that he was working deadly spells on his former friend as well. Eventually, a storm grounded Hubbard and Betty and he was able to reach them. Parsons ended up dropping the charges — likely because Betty threatened to expose her unconventional relationship with him — and the couple never gave Parsons his money back.
In 1952, just two years after Hubbard shot to fame with the publication of Dianetics, Parsons died while handling explosives on his front porch. He was survived by the rockets built at JPL that have sent humans to the Moon, and the probes that took us to Jupiter, Saturn, and out beyond the solar system’s envelope. Parsons is also, like his frenemy Hubbard, survived by a snarl of conspiracy theories about his life and death.
The intense connections forged between Hubbard, Parsons and Crowley could be a random happenstance — just one of those odd quirks of history. More likely, it was a side effect of living during a time when rocket science emerged from fiction and became a reality. Briefly, the boundary blurred between physics and the imagination. Perhaps it’s no wonder that magic was involved.
A house in the Altamaha River Swamp in Georgia becomes darker and more dangerous than the swamp itself.
Some believe we all have a guardian angel watching over us. One infamous yet respected witch hunter many years ago wrote that we all – each one of us – have a personal demon. And many people believed him.
These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.
In the 1870s, a small rural town was founded in the U.S. state of Georgia, just about 90 miles southwest of Savannah, by a sawmill operator named Allen Surrency, who lived with his family in a large, two-story farmhouse on the edge of the Altamaha River Swamp, near the railroad tracks that went through town. It was at first an idyllic life for the Surrency family for a time, until a strange series of events would unfold that would go on to become one of the most widely witnessed, well-documented hauntings, and most intense the world has ever seen.
Unlike many other hauntings, where the phenomena start out somewhat innocuously and slowly intensify over time, the Surrency haunting started off with a bang in spectacular fashion, and would never really let up. The most commonly cited incident that kicked off the whole thing was when the family patriarch came home from a trip out of town one day in October of 1872 to find his home being ransacked by some unseen force right before his very eyes, with objects moving and shaking on their own all around him. He would say of the sight that met him in the Savannah Morning News thus: *****A few minutes after my arrival I saw the glass tumblers begin to slide off the slab and the crockery to fall upon the floor and break. The books began to tumble from their shelves to the floor, while brickbats, billets of wood, smoothing irons, biscuits, potatoes, tin pans, water buckets, pitchers, etc., began to fall in different parts of my house.*****
At first he suspected that it may have been caused by an earthquake, but there had been no shaking of the house itself, no neighbors had been affected, and this would turn out to be far from an isolated incident. Before long the whole family began to witness furniture and objects moving on their own or sliding about, pictures falling from walls, and even plates, cups, books, and bottles and assorted other household objects leaping from their resting places to launch themselves through the air with great, sometimes almost violent force, or even appearing to dance about as if animated by some mysterious life force of their own. The clocks in the home were prone to going haywire, spinning rapidly either forward or backward in time, and mirrors frequently cracked or exploded into a rain of glass, as did other glass objects. There were many instances of anomalous noises such as footsteps, banging, and disembodied voices, laughter, and more chillingly screaming when no one was there or from empty rooms.
Perhaps more alarmingly than this activity, things were often jerked out of people’s hands, and on at least one occasion the family reported that eating utensils in their hands began to twist and bend as they held them. Whatever the entity was, it did not seem to like dishes and crockery much, as it consistently would knock over or smash these to pieces, to the point that the family gave up on having plates around. The kitchen was indeed often the target of these ghostly tantrums, with pots spilled out, things broken, and forks, knives and spoons often left strewn or bent into contorted shapes.
These phenomena would quickly branch out into even more bizarre territory. One day Mrs. Surrency was sitting quietly doing some stitching when the needles, thread, thimbles, and scissors all alighted from her hands to go spinning about the room while suspended in midair. On another occasion a pair of boots allegedly began walking and wandering around the house as if someone were wearing them. There was also a time when a pan of freshly baked biscuits levitated out of the oven and flew right out the back door of the home. More frightening still was an incident in which the Surrency’s daughter, Clementine, was walking along the front path when she was suddenly caught up in a rain of falling hot bricks that seemed to come from nowhere, which she amazingly escaped unscathed. Indeed, Clementine seemed to be a favored target of the entity, and she was constantly harassed by it, with her bed covers yanked off, her hair pulled, and even being lifting right out of her own bed. Just as frightening was an apparent attack on the family’s son, who was once chased and struck by a floating andiron, which returned itself to the fireplace after the terrifying assault.
These sorts of phenomena became quite famous around town and eventually all over the country, and droves of people visited the house to see if they could witness something strange. They would not be disappointed, and one of the hallmarks of the Surrency haunting is just how many witnesses saw the phenomena for themselves. Objects would move and fly about even in full view of startled bystanders, and the ghost did not seem to be shy at all, if anything even bolder when other people were around. Some of these incidents were quite odd, such as a time when barnyard animals teleported right into the middle of the living room as news reporters looked on, and another occasion when a log flew out of the fireplace to go hurtling across the room in front of a visiting minister. In total hundreds of people would witness such high strangeness at the Surrency house, and no one had any sort of explanation for any of it.
The haunting went on, attracting intense media and scientific scrutiny, and they moved away, yet even then it did not abate. In their new home the haunting went on unhindered. Realizing that there was no escape from the mysterious forces plaguing them, the family ended up back in Surrency, where the entity would continue to relentlessly haunt them until the death of Mr. Surrency in 1877, after which it all suddenly stopped and the house went quite until it finally burned down in 1925, leaving questions swirling about with no answers. Why did such explosive and massive paranormal activity gravitate towards this house and this family? Indeed, why did it follow them even when they moved to a new area? Why was it so incredibly prolific and oft times violent? Why was it that the entity was so brazen and unafraid of visitors or of being seen? More intriguing, why did it all suddenly stop after years of nearly nonstop powerful activity? No one really knows, but there have been ideas.
The coincidence that the haunting blinked out with Mr. Surrency’s death was not lost on many of the more superstitious townsfolk, and there were soon whispers that he had been involved in Satanic rituals or black magic at the time. In later years it has also been suggested that, rather than a ghost, perhaps one of the family members was unintentionally projecting psychic energy unbeknownst to even themselves, as is theorized to sometimes be the case in poltergeist infestations. It could also have been that the ghost or ghosts were trying to tell the family something or reach out to them for inscrutable reasons, or that the home had been built over some burial ground or other place of spiritual significance. More rational explanations have pointed to it being caused by some sort of geological magnetic anomaly or even earthquakes, although no one else around the family experienced tremors and this went on for years.
Interestingly, there is a mysterious orb of light seen to dance along the town’s railway tracks even to this day, although what connection it has to the haunting is unknown. In the end there really isn’t that much we do know, and the strange tale of the haunting of Surrency, Georgia remains shrouded in enigma. Sadly, it is unlikely that we will ever have any firm answers or learn any more of the case, as the house burnt down long ago and there are no more firsthand witnesses to the events, leaving the case lost to history. What is for sure is that the Surrency haunting continues to be one of the most intense, well-documented, and frequently witnessed paranormal events ever.
STORY: DEMON WITCH HUNTER=====
Sixteenth century Europe was a violent era in history when mass hysteria and religious teachings led people to see witches and demons in everything they did. The fear of hellfire caused self-proclaimed witch hunters to rise up, and among them was the infamous Peter Binsfeld, a man who loved torture and hated Protestants, among many other things. Binsfeld was a respected man in his time, and his teachings on demonology and witches are still read to this day. Perhaps his most well known work is his classifications of the Seven Princes of Hell – seven demon lords who each punished sinners for particular crimes committed during their lifetime.
No one knows what Hell is like, or if it indeed exists, but according to the dogma there is no way to escape from Hell, and the Seven Princes of Hell, as described by Binsfeld, were meant to make people atone for their crimes in life – interesting though they may be, they’re certainly not people anyone wants to befriend. Try to avoid it, but if you can’t stop sinning you’re about to find out who you’ll meet in the afterlife.
Peter Binsfeld was an important figure of his time. He was considered gifted in his community, and was sent to Rome to complete his education. By the time he returned to Germany he had become a staunch Catholic with extremely anti-Protestant views, and he had also become a witch hunter.
When not torturing and investigating suspected witches – which took up a not-insignificant portion of his time – Binsfeld was responsible for crafting multiple important texts of the witch-hunting era. He composed De confessionibus maleficorum et sagarum, translated as On the Confessions of Warlocks and Witches, which detailed his thoughts on the use of torture to obtain confessions of witchcraft, as well as his classification of demons, a reinterpretation of demonic hierarchies in Hell shaped by the seven deadly sins.
Despite Binsfeld’s merciless attitudes toward the use of torture to discover witches – he was firmly pro-torture – he was actually something of a moderate. Though he, like some others of his time, did believe that the Devil could create illusions and other forms of deception to get people to do his bidding, he also thought that people had to consent to those visions, making them guilty.
Binsfeld’s moderate stance was that girls under 12 and boys under 14 shouldn’t be held guilty for practicing witchcraft in most cases, only in some; others of his time were content to burn toddlers at the stake for presumed witchcraft. He was also rare in his time for believing that people were not capable of using witchcraft to shapeshift, and that anybody who saw such a thing occur was more likely to be experiencing the Devil’s deception. Likewise, he didn’t believe in witch’s marks – that is, birthmarks, scars, or other disfigurements that were said to make a person as a witch.
Among his beliefs about witch children and witch marks, Binsfeld also had the unusual belief that each person had a personal demon. Unlike the more general demons of Hell, a person’s personal demon knew them and their habits intimately, making them a more efficient means of seducing people into their evil ways. A personal demon existed in opposition to each person’s Guardian Angel, who could lead a person to righteousness.
His beliefs about the push and pull of good and evil left potential witches with free will, as opposed to some other theologies, which contended that people were born good or evil with their lives preordained. Still, Binsfeld’s belief in free will was another tool to persecute people, particularly women, whom he said were more prone to witchcraft due to their natural despair and desire for revenge.
Theologists of Binsfeld’s period were quite interested in creating hierarchies for the many inhabitants of Hell. While the Devil reigned supreme, there were multiple means of classifying his underlings. Prior to King James’s 1591 book Daemonlogie, the Lanterne of Light and Alphonso de Spina’s classification were two of the most prominent. The former is quite similar to Binsfeld’s classification, assigning different demons to different sins, but differed slightly on which sin belonged to which demon.
Spina’s classification instead created a hierarchy of different types of demons, including elements of Germanic folklore. King James’s version took hold just two years after Binsfeld’s classification was proposed, but people still find his interpretations intriguing today.
Lucifer is a name many will recognize. Though the name and its meaning of “morning star” or “light bringer” have a variety of applications in various mythologies, Binsfeld used it to refer to the angel who fell from heaven after his attempt to create a new structure of power. Thus, Lucifer, by Binsfeld’s classification, represents the sin of pride. He is often considered to be the leader of demons in Hell, and is therefore particularly evil and dangerous.
Because of his high status and importance, Lucifer is sometimes conflated with Satan; in some stories they are the same, but in others they are separate from one another. Because it’s difficult to track down Binsfeld’s original work, which was not in English, it’s hard to say how he felt about the connection between the two.
Beelzebub is known by a multitude of names, including “Lord of the Flies” and “Baal.” The New Testament mentions him as chief of the demons, and Binsfeld associated him with gluttony. Biblically, he’s normally associated with diseases – hence the flies – which makes him an odd choice for gluttony.
However, Beelzebub has a long and storied history in biblical lore and apocrypha, where he is often characterized as being just below Satan in rank. Some stories actually rank him as above Satan, but Binsfeld didn’t seem particularly interested in hierarchies, just in which sin the demon presided over. His reasoning behind connecting Beelzebub and gluttony are unclear, though it’s possible that he’s drawing a comparison between flies and the consumption of the dead.
Satan, distinct from Lucifer in Binsfeld’s interpretation of Hell’s hierarchy, is said to reign over the souls of the wrathful. Because Satan is often conflated with Lucifer, there’s some overlap in their histories – Satan is also said to be an angel fallen from Heaven for rebelling against God. ‘Satan’ is translated to ‘the adversary,’ in this case the adversary of mankind. Whereas God is loving and wise, Satan is wrathful towards humanity, reflected in his association with wrath according to Binsfeld’s categorization.
Often seen as the ruler of Hell, Satan is therefore one of – if not the – most powerful demons.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that Binsfeld assigned Belphegor the role of torturing the slothful. His image is one of the least intimidating of the Seven Princes of Hell, as he’s frequently depicted on a toilet. However, his past forms have also been associated with phalluses and orgies, but even the Lanterne of Light assigned him to gluttony, not lust. When summoned, Belphegor is said to offer wealth and inventions, and that connection with wealth, which allows humans to not work, is likely why he ended up being associated with sloth. Binsfeld’s belief was that Belphegor tempted people to be lazy, and to do evil through their inaction – though he wasn’t clear about the means and methods of the torture, it certainly wasn’t pleasant.
The name “Mammon” comes from a Chaldee or Syriac word meaning “wealth,” so it’s no surprise that the demon of the same name tortures those who are greedy. According to theology, Mammon was greedy even while in Heaven; part of the reason for his fall was his valuing the gold streets of Heaven over his feelings for God.
Though more recent translations of the Bible tend to translate the word “Mammon” as literal greed or wealth, Binsfeld and others of his time viewed him as a demonic figure who lured humans to evil through promises of wealth. Binsfeld didn’t specify what his torture would be like, but, as one of the higher-ranking demons in Hell, it’s clear that it’s best avoided.
Interestingly, Asmodeus’s name comes from the Persian “Aeshma-deva”, translating to “demon of wrath” – but Binsfeld chose to give him dominion over the lustful instead. Because Satan was already responsible for the wrathful, perhaps Binfeld thought Asmodeus was an acceptable second choice. Asmodeus was also said to slay the seven husbands of Sarah in the apocryphal Book of Tobit, as well as saying, in the Book of Solomon, that he, “Is always hatching plots against newlyweds; I mar the beauty of virgins and cause their hearts to grow cold.”
There is, then, a connection with lust in his history – it’s just not as straightforward as some. He’s often depicted with three heads, one of a bull, one of a human, and one of a ram, as well as a variety of other animal-like parts no doubt intended to make him all the more fearsome and disturbing.
The word “Leviathan” has many meanings in Biblical contexts. In Jewish tradition, the Leviathan is a large sea monster that God kills and feeds to the Hebrews, but according to Binsfeld he was also the prince of Hell responsible for punishing the envious. St. Thomas Aquinas was one of the earliest to propose Leviathan as the punisher of envious sinners, but it’s unclear exactly why.
In the writing of Father Sebastien Michaelis, which is reportedly based on the testimony of a demon, Leviathan was said to be responsible for tempting people toward sacrilege, which, at the time probably referred to literal theft rather than a general sense of thwarting the will of the church and God. Because of the connection with envy, it’s likely that assigning Leviathan as the overseer of envy comes from him encouraging people to steal from the church.
When Weird Darkness returns…
Was a well known UFOlogist murdered shortly before a scheduled speech he was about to give? We’ll look more closely at that possibility.
And for some time now, Area 51 has been seen as ground zero for conspiracies and government coverups. However, a plot of land in Utah has started to attract much of the same kind of attention. Welcome to Dugway – also known as Area 52.
These stories are up next!
STORY: UFO COMPUTER=====
On July 16, 2016, British ufologist and conspiracy theorist Max Spiers died in Poland days before he was to speak at a conspiracy theory conference and just after allegedly vomiting two liters of a mysterious black liquid. Before he left England, Spiers sent his mother a text message: “Your boy’s in trouble. If anything happens to me, investigate.” That investigation is ongoing and Spiers’ death has still not been solved. Now, a new twist emerges. During a pre-inquest review last week, lawyers for Spiers’ mother revealed that her son’s laptop computer had data on it at the time of his death but had been wiped clean when it was returned to her. Apparently, the SIM card from his phone was also either erased or removed. Who is behind this and will it be resolved before the inquest in Poland in January 2019?
The pre-inquest review was held at Guildhall in Sandwich, Kent, on August 10, 2018. The attorney for Spiers’ mother, Vanessa Bates, requested that the members of the Polish emergency services to appear as witnesses at the inquest, most likely to explain how such a strange death could have been ruled to be due to “natural causes.” He also wants to know if disciplinary actions were taken against any of the police officers involved with the case. However, no request caused as much mayhem as the questions about the missing computer data and phone SIM card.
“The way in which they were returned and what was done to them is clearly one of the big mysteries. The family has no knowledge whatsoever of what the results of that analysis were. The issue is the Sim card and what was on it. Without sight of the report, the family has no answer to these questions.”
Neither does anyone else. The attorney asked that Spiers’ girlfriend at the time of his death, Monika Duval, be in attendance at the inquest. Spiers was found dead on Duval’s couch and she was considered to be a suspect by those who thought he was murdered, as was Spiers’ fiancé back in England.
“He was very fit and healthy when I said goodbye to him. Everything that we have in terms of health records before he went were that he was in great health. This was an enormous blow. I miss him dreadfully.”
Vanessa Bates and others were shocked by Spiers’ sudden death and the inquest is supposed to focus on how and why the investigation into Spiers’ death and his autopsy were so mishandled by Polish officials. With the questions about the computer data and the phone SIM card, there will obviously be questions about the conspiracy theories that Spiers was probing into the practice of “black magic” by well-known figures in politics, business and entertainment, or that this lifelong ufologist was actually a “supersoldier selected at birth by aliens.”
Coroner Christopher Sutton Mattocks said the four-day inquest will be heard starting on January 7, 2019, at the Archbishops Palace in Maidstone. He said: “It is extremely important that when we start everybody is completely ready for this and we have all the information available.”
Will they be completely ready? Will the missing data be found or explained? Will they clear up the mysterious death of ufologist Max Spiers? Or will the mystery deepen?
STORY: AREA 52=====
For decades, Roswell has been America’s No.1 UFO conspiracy-baiting attraction. However, a mysterious plot of land in Utah has started to attract much of the same kind of attention. Dugway Proving Ground is a monstrously big military facility – over 800,000 acres worth of ground, if you include the Utah Test and Training Range next door.
It was founded during the second World War for biological and chemical weapons experiments, some of the details of which have only recently been released to the public. The director of Dugway’s West Desert Test Center, Ryan Harris, told FOX 13 News in 2016 that “throughout the history of Dugway, it has evolved to what we currently do which is defensive chemical, biological and some radiological and explosive defense materials to ensure they meet war fighter specifications.”
Despite this assurance, there’s still a huge cloud of mystery hanging over Dugway, and this – coupled with numerous reports of UFO sightings around the facility, reports of testing biological warfare on soldiers, and the infamous Dugway sheep kill incident – have led to it being labeled “Area 52.”
One of the most well-known creepy things connected to Dugway is the dead sheep incident. In 1968, testing for a chemical weapon called “VX” got out of hand. Considering the test was done in the air with planes spitting out drops of the nerve agent into the wind, the risks seem obvious in retrospect.
The dangerous chemical apparently got swept away amid strong gusts and blew into the nearby farmland in Skull Valley – which, with a name like that, seems tragically ironic. After a few days, between 4,000-6,000 sheep were dead. The military refused to accept blame for the incident but still coughed up the money to compensate the angry farmers.
In 2016, MuckRock.com founder Michel Morisy received a gold mine of information from the military after filing Freedom of Information requests. Dating back to the ’60s, the records detailed a lot of weird experiments worthy of several supervillain origin stories that the US Army and been up to.
“A lot of far out research, the James Bond-ey sort of stuff that we see,” Michael told FOX 13. “A lot of that stuff has never been made public.”
Of all the strange testing that was going on in the name of both military offense and defense, “Entomological Munitions” was one of the most far-out. “They loaded up mosquitos with what they said was an inert disease, an inert bacteria, an inert virus and actually released that on civilian populations in the United States,” Michael explains.
The records of freaky experiments carried out at Dugway that were released in 2016 as a result Freedom of Information requests included detailed accounts of soldiers being used as human guinea pigs.
For Steve Erickson of the Citizens Education Project, these revelations are worrying. “Things have changed since then, but there is that long legacy of human experimentation, as well as other questionable activities by the U.S. Army at Dugway Proving Ground,” he told FOX 13.
Dugway’s West Desert Test Center director Ryan Harris gave FOX 13 a tour of some of the non-secret work that goes on in Dugway these days to try and ease concerns. “When it comes to chemical and biological materials, it’s all defensive,” he assured. “There’s no longer any offensive work anymore.”
Don Phillips, an engineer for Lockheed – one of Dugway’s biggest defense contractors – supports claims made by UFO investigators and Lockheed’s former CEO, Dr. Ben Rich, that his company did indeed conduct experiments to do with “flying saucer technology.”
He says scientists were aided by the remains of a crashed craft from Roswell. “These UFOs were huge and they would just come to a stop and do a 60 degree, 45 degree, 10 degree turn, and then immediately reverse this action.”
On May 8, 2011, a local man named Joseph Bushling was driving away from Dugway at 4am – something that, according to a friend of his – wasn’t too unusual. This time, however, Joseph never returned home.
On the day of his disappearance, he left a strange voicemail for Herman Herrera, a former Lieutenant of Special Operations: “It’s Bushling, um, I need a ride. Alright, talk to you later.” Herman said he called again after that and Joseph sounded “frantic.” His car was found empty about 65 miles away from the main entrance to Dugway a week later. His hat and shoes were also found nearby, but there was no sign of a body.
There was no evidence of assault or that he had killed himself. “It was unusual on many fronts,” Tooele County Sheriff Frank Park told FOX 13. “Usually, you can work back. Once you find the victim, you can work backward, and you can get some really solid answers. We never had a victim. We never had a subject, and we had no idea why we couldn’t find him.”
Where there’s secret military operations, tight security and bizarre experiments going on, UFO sightings are always sure to follow. In the The History Channel’s UFO Hunters episode on Area 52, residents from Utah were interviewed about what they’d seen around the vast and shady military base on their desert doorsteps.
A man known as “Alien Dave” claimed to have seen a plane disappear from the sky, discovered an underground fort in the side of one of the surrounding mountains, and even seen an electro-magnetic beam blasting into space from the facility.
A former police officer from a nearby reservation (a job title that carries a little more weight than Dave’s nickname) goes even further – suggesting that actual flying saucers have been hovering in the desert and could move quicker than any plane from Earth.
Much like Area 51, “Area 52” is a magnet for UFO enthusiasts looking for evidence that the US government secretly obtained and has been experimenting with alien technology for years. One of the biggest revelations they point to are confessions from Dr. Ben Rich, the former CEO of one of Dugway’s biggest defense contractors.
Respected Ufologist Steven Greer claims that Dr. Rich admitted that he’d been part of secret military projects for years to develop “anti-gravity” technology that could power spacecrafts capable of taking “E.T home.”
“We already have the means to travel among the stars, but these technologies are locked up in black projects, and it would take an act of God to ever get them out to benefit humanity,” Dr Rich explained. “Anything you can imagine, we already know how to do.”
As a highly secured military facility, it’s not that surprising that tourists can’t just waltz straight through the front door of Dugway and start taking selfies with scientists mid-chemical weapons testing. That being said, when journalist Arvid Keeson decided to investigate just how hard it would be to gain access to the facility, his experience was eye-opening.
*****”We entered the gates by showing my Utah State Legislature press credentials, but we were told we still must check in with security to gain permission for a tour. While we were waiting to speak to Dugway’s PR director, we watched a group of men wearing bulletproof vests with handguns enter Dugway in their Ford Excursions. They appeared to be Army Special Forces. One man told me he was there for anti-terrorist training. After a 30-minute wait, I was denied access because I had an unpaid ticket on my driving record. My colleague was denied because he wasn’t an American citizen. After being escorted out by police, I began to wonder: What is really going on here?”*****
Much like Roswell, Dugway’s border is also patrolled constantly by guards who will stop anyone that comes too close to the facility from each of the surrounding mountains. Talk about paranoid.
Dugway Proving Ground is so big, Rhode Island would have no problem relocating to it with room for more. Like most other similar facilities, it is also a place military personnel call home, with the northern area made up mainly of houses, schools and places to eat and exercise. Detailed maps of these residential districts can be found on Dugway’s website.
But, as some journalists and Ufologists have pointed out, much of the southern area – which the Air Force expanded into in 2004 – is curiously missing from the website. The section contains a runway thought to be big enough for a spaceship to land on, and security around it has considerably tightened up since then.
In his documentary The Sirius Project, leading Ufologist Steven Greer puts forward his evidence that trillions of dollars has been siphoned out into a “shadow” government from the main government’s budget for years operating beyond the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense – and even the President.
He claims that, just before 9/11, $3 trillion (a quarter of the military’s budget) went missing from the military’s defense funds. Greer says that this irregularity has been going on since the second World War when it would have been channeled into funding secret operations like the Manhattan Project. Nowadays, the money could be going towards the E.T research at Dugway instead.
Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! And please leave a rating and review of the show in the podcast app you listen from – doing so helps the show to get noticed! You can also email me anytime with your questions or comments through the website at WeirdDarkness.com. That’s also where you can find all of my social media, listen to free audiobooks, shop the Weird Darkness store, sign up for the newsletter to win monthly prizes, find my other podcast “Church of the Undead”, and more. Plus if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY – or call the DARKLINE toll free at 1-877-277-5944. That’s 1-877-277-5944.
All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise) and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“Scientology and the Occult” by Annalee Newitz
“The Devil L. Ron Hubbard” by Jacob Shelton
“A Terrifying Haunting In Georgia” by Brent Swancer
“The Bleached Computer of a UFO Researcher” by Paul Seaburn
“The Demon Witch Hunter” by Melissa Brinks
“Welcome to Area 52” by Hannah Collins
Again, you can find link to all of these stories in the show notes.
WeirdDarkness™ – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… 2 Corinthians 9:8 = “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
And a final thought… “Life is just like painting. Draw the lines with hope. Erase the errors with tolerance. Dip the brush with lots of patience. And color it with love.”
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.