In lieu of a Wednesday Weirdness Roundup, here’s one big ol’ chunk of weirdness for you…
As you probably know, David Carradine, star of Kung Fu and the Kill Bill movies, died in Thailand on June 3rd. His death was apparently caused by either suicide or auto-erotic asphyxiation (sorry for TMI, but it’s kinda central to this post).
On June 6th, very shortly after the latter possibility came to light, Jones’ Infowars website reported on Extra correspondent Jerry Penacoli’s comment, during a Larry King broadcast, that Carradine was “very interested in investigating and disclosing secret societies” and that his death was “abnormal…not natural.”
Evidently, Kurt Nimmo of Infowars considered this a clue to the mystery. The following day, he posted a story titled “Author Claims David Carradine was Ordo Templi Orientis Member.”
This was probably big news to a lot of people, but I’ve been researching “Satanic panic” and witch hunts for several years, which has given me a fairly good grasp of the history and practices of the OTO and other occult organizations. (I could make this post 100 pages long with OTO-related trivia, but I’ll spare you for now. Just check out the Wikipedia entry if you want a quick rundown.)
I knew that John Carradine was involved somehow with the OTO, and a quick check of the two major biographies of Jack Parsons, Sex and Rockets by John Carter (Feral House, 1999) and Strange Angel by George Pendle (Harcourt, 2005), confirmed that he had read a poem by Aleister Crowley at the first meeting of the Agape Lodge in 1935, in Hollywood. This lodge later came under the leadership of Parsons and moved to Pasadena. Pendle mentioned that Carradine visited Parsons at least once after the move. There’s no mention that he was actually a member of the lodge, but let’s assume he was, just for the sake of argument.
Nimmo referenced two works. I had heard of Martin P. Starr’s The Unknown God: W.T. Smith and the Thelemites (2003), which is a biography of the man who established the Agape Lodge, but Craig Heimbichner’s Blood on the Altar: The Secret History of the World’s Most Dangerous Secret Society (2005) was completely unfamiliar to me. I soon found out why.
The link at Infowars led me to the online store at Revisionist History.org, “The Independent History and Research Co.”. This is the website of Holocaust “revisionist” (denier) and professional conspiranoid Michael A. Hoffman II. His store offers an array of B-grade conspiracy books and racist/anti-Semitic literature, including Hate Whitey: The Cinema of Defamation, Hoffman’s own Witches and Rabbis: Legacy of the Reagan White House, and the batsh** insane ramblings of the late James Shelby Downard.
Blood on the Altar supposedly exposes OTO links to NASA, Patriot groups, NAMBLA, Kabbala, ’60s drug culture, and neo-conservatism – among other things. In fall 2005 Paranoia magazine reviewed it, and Heimbichner replied with an essay posted at Revisionist History. A link to this essay was provided at Infowars. In it, Heimbichner states that two-party political systems “are minted from the kabbalistic schema of Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572)” and repeats the names of some prominent people “linked” to the OTO: Alfred Kinsey (who made a single visit to the abandoned Abbey of Thelema years after Crowley’s death), Aldous Huxley, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Rampolla, Robert Heinlein (who may have corresponded with Parsons, a sci-fi fan; Heinlein’s widow and L. Sprague de Camp claimed the two men never met in person), and of course John Carradine (curiously, the only entertainer mentioned).
Why did Nimmo choose to reference an alarmist, anti-Semitic screed peddled by a Holocaust denier, rather than thoroughly respectable works like those written by John Carter et al? Only he knows for certain, but I suspect his answer would only reinforce my utter disrespect for Infowars and Prison Planet.
Now, let’s look at the story itself. The implication is, of course, that David Carradine learned too much about the OTO, and someone murdered him to keep him quiet. This really has nothing to do with what Jerry Penacoli and Keith Carradine’s attorney, Mark Geragos, were talking about on Larry King. They suspected that David Carradine had uncovered some dirt on the “martial-arts underworld”. But let’s set aside the second-stupidest theory about Carradine’s death, and deal just with the OTO thing.
Is Nimmo’s suggestion plausible? Not really. OTO members, past and present, tend to be proud iconoclasts – they don’t care if you know what they do in their spare time. Parsons, for instance, was repeatedly slandered and condemned by neighbors and colleagues, but never once backed off from his occult interests to appease anyone. His rituals might have remained secret, but his lifestyle didn’t.
Nor are OTO members known to be violent, dangerous, or menacing. They’re mostly productive and responsible citizens, highly intelligent and creative. Does Robert Anton Wilson seem like the kind of guy who would have barged into a man’s hotel room, ruthlessly murdered him, then staged an embarrassing suicide just to keep anyone from knowing he was a member? Srsly?
From its inception, the American OTO has never been implicated in any serious wrongdoing. Probably its gravest offense, legally, was in allowing gay and bi sex rites at a time when homosexuality was illegal. Members tend to like their illicit substances, but they aren’t hardened criminals. Subversive? Yes. A little pervy? Maybe. Somewhat gullible? Yes, especially in Parsons’ case. But not coercive or cultish, and certainly not some kind of occult Mafia that dispatches assassins to Thai hotels to kill septuagenarians.
If someone connected to the OTO did kill Carradine, then there would likely be some evidence of murder that Thai officials would have to cover up. The question is, why would they? The OTO has never been as star-studded and influential as Freemasonry, Opus Dei, or other “secret” societies, and it doesn’t have a strong presence in Asia.
Do OTO members worship Satan? No. Alex Jones and company might say yes, but no. “Occult” does not equal “Satanic”, period. Crowley and Parsons dabbled in some dark stuff, certainly, but even they couldn’t really be called Satanists. Their belief systems were a melange of ancient Egyptian, Tantric, Kabbalistic, Hermetic, Gnostic Christian, and Eastern ideas, just as the OTO is.
Is the OTO part of the New World Order? Not freaking likely, at least not the same NWO Jones imagines. In his NWO, Communists and Nazis and liberals and neocons are all of a piece. Both the OTO’s co-founder, Theodore Reuss, and its most infamous member, Aleister Crowley, worked as anti-Communist informants in Germany. Crowley disseminated Nazi propaganda in WWII, but to this day no one’s quite sure if he was working on behalf of British intelligence or not. And the OTO leader who replaced Crowley, Karl Germer, was captured by the Gestapo, tortured, and thrown into a concentration camp because the Nazis hated secret societies they couldn’t control.
The OTO just isn’t cut out to be an Establishment outfit. Maybe if Pat Buchanan joins….
Is the OTO, as Heimbichner contends, the next step beyond Freemasonry? Yes and no. While some founding members were Freemasons or faux Masons (belonging to lodges that weren’t officially recognized), Crowley – a faux Mason – removed virtually all of the OTO’s Masonic trappings and replaced them with other occult traditions. By the time the OTO reached America, it was less Masonic than Mormonism was.
In Alex Jonestown, any private organization or gathering that isn’t totally transparent and open to any schlub who wanders in off the street is suspect. In the real world, a little secrecy among friends never hurt anyone. Including David Carradine.
But as long as we’re making completely retarded and irresponsible insinuations, maybe Jerry Penacoli killed David Carradine because he knew too much about that gerbil thing.
Some Other Stupid OTO Allegations:
– Ed Sanders, in his lurid Manson bio The Family, claims Manson had dealings with “an irresponsible bastard child of the OTO”, a “devil cult” in Southern California. This is a reference to the Solar Lodge, which was basically a hippie drug cult that claimed descent from the OTO. It was apparently an unauthorized attempt to resurrect the OTO in California, mostly dormant at that time due to contested leadership. The Solar Lodge was not a Satanic group, and there is absolutely no solid evidence that Manson nor any member of his clique had any dealings with the SL, ever. That’s why Sanders was forced to remove the group’s name from later editions of his book.
Sanders insists Manson was also a member of the devil-worshipping “Four P” cult spoken of by convicted killer Stanley Dean Baker, though there’s no evidence this group even existed. Maury Terry ran with this by declaring in his book The Ultimate Evil that the Son of Sam murders were carried out by a splinter group of Four P, itself supposedly a splinter group of the Process Church of the Final Judgement.
– In The Ultimate Evil, Terry contends that The Process incorporated some of the tenets of the OTO, and that the “entire occult underground in America today” can be traced to the Agape Lodge in Pasadena. Very early in his investigation of David Berkowitz, Terry wondered if Berkowitz was involved “with that treacherous English society [The Process] or its OTO counterparts.” At the end of his investigation, he concluded that an offshoot of the Four P cult was responsible for the Son of Sam shootings, and that Four P was an offshoot of The Process.
– Conspiracy researcher Alex Constantine (who might leave a livid, barely coherent comment on this post, ’cause he likes to Google himself) says the Solar Lodge and the OTO were probably CIA-financed and -controlled organizations specializing in mind control, murder, and mayhem. I don’t know about the SL, but as I mentioned earlier, the OTO is not coercive.
So far as I know, no known members of the OTO have committed murder. Yet author Peter Levenda also characterized SL and OTO members as murderous thugs.
– In the ’90s, NYC performer Janice Knowlton recovered memories of childhood ritual abuse and murder, perpetrated by her father in California. Around Halloween 1946, when she was 9, her father pimped her out to a Pasadena sex cult for use in a ritual. She was taken to the basement of a church-like building somewhere near Marengo Avenue and Green Street. There, men in hooded robes stood in a circle and chanted while Janice was instructed by her father to perform oral sex on at least one of the men.
She also recalled being at his side when he murdered women, including his pregnant girlfriend, Elizabeth Short – the Black Dahlia. One problem with this account (and there are many) is that Short was not pregnant at the time of her death.
Knowlton and the co-author of her book (Daddy Was the Black Dahlia Killer), Michael Newton, decided that the sex cult must have been the OTO. They attempt to build a bridge between occult rituals and child sexual abuse, but the span falls far short of its mark. “At this point it should come as no surprise to learn that rumours of cult-related child pornography were current among Los Angeles social service workers in the 1940s”, they write. Perhaps not. But the OTO has never been implicated in anything remotely resembling child abuse. And Knowlton has no reason to believe that the black-hooded men she allegedly encountered were OTO members, anyway.
With all the dangerous cults and bizarro religious groups in existence, why do conspiranoids prefer to pick on an organization that has a clean track record? I think there are several possible answers:
– The Crowley connection. Though he wasn’t really a Satanist and didn’t engage in criminal activity (excluding drug use and homosexuality), he’s still considered a Satanic monster by many of those who are unfamiliar with his beliefs and practices.
– The NASA connection. Parsons worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and every conspiranoid worth his salt knows that NASA stands for “Never a Straight Answer”. Richard Hoagland has even linked NASA to secret societies, suppressed knowledge, and dark occult deeds.
– Sex. Though only the higher levels of the OTO practice sex magick, and despite the fact that one degree actually requires a temporary oath of celibacy, the OTO retains its rep as an ultra-pervy orgy club. Conspiracy theorists don’t seem to have a problem with the Kama Sutra being widely available, but the notion of Tantra plus magick outrages them. Many of them think sex for anything other than heterosexual procreation is a particular vice of the wealthy and debauched. For instance, JAlex Jones seems to believe that the “elite” (educated professionals, elected officials, appointed officials, etc.) are more sexually deviant than the rest of us, and delights in pointing out examples of their sex-related misdeeds. It’s a convenient way to undermine your enemy; Marie Antoinette was accused by her political rivals of everything from lesbianism to incestuous pedophilia.
– It’s a “secret society”. To Jones, secret = bad.
I spoke too soon. This is the stupidest Carradine theory so far: On yesterday’s broadcast of The Alex Jones Show, guest Wayne Madsen suggested that Carradine probably had a heart attack in one of the Bangkok S&M clubs that caters to diplomats, Hollywood actors, and other VIPs. So to avoid the embarrassment of admitting that Carradine died in a whip-me-beat-me establishment, the owners and/or someone acting on behalf of the actor’s manager removed him to his hotel room, hung him in the closet, and staged his demise as a masturbation-related accident. ‘Cause that’s a lot less humiliating for everyone involved.
Atomic Nerds pointed out that Mark Geragos’ theory is actually the best one ever, and I have to agree. Now that Bush is out of office, blaming ninjas for everything has its appeal.
I’m wondering if Benjamin Fulford’s Freemasonic ninjas had some part in this. Maybe they realized that targeting movie stars would have more of an impact than going after government officials.