In the ’80s, a thirtysomething Texan named Tom Sanguinet made an extremely minor niche for himself as a former Wiccan high priest who converted to Christianity. His Witness for Christ Center Outreach was devoted to smearing and misrepresenting Wicca and Wiccans and educating Christians about the “evil” pagan origins of Halloween and Easter celebrations.
Sanguinet was a Wiccan from 1977 to 1982. He was not, as others describe him, a high priest; there’s no indication he even belonged to a coven at any time. He took a correspondence course from Gavin Frost’s Church and School of Wicca, which granted him a church charter just like the one issued to John Todd in the mid-’70s (you’ll recall that Todd identified Frost as a key player in the Satanic conspiracy, most likely because Frost wisely refused to defend him against charges of exploiting young girls in his “coven”). He apparently had no coven members aside from his girlfriend, Karen Milner
At this time, Sanguinet was penniless. He and Karen, along with Karen’s young daughter, moved to New Bern, South Carolina to be close to Frost. Frost employed him as a welder in his shipyard and helped him get into government-subsidized housing.
In September ’81, Karen left Wicca and New Bern, possibly because (as Frost claims) Sanguinet was abusive toward her child.
Early in ’82, Sanguinet abruptly quit his job at Frost’s boatyard, announcing that he was now a born again Christian who intended to destroy the Church of Wicca. In an August 30th letter to Frost, he wrote, “The whore goddess you serve is a false god and abhorrent to the Lord”, and accused Frost of “spiritually murdering” his own wife and child by not being a Christian. (1)
Sanguinet departed New Bern soon afterward, leaving several outstanding debts. He also sold a truck he had borrowed from someone in Texas. Theft charges were filed against him.
Just how and where Sanguinet was converted to Christianity is unclear.
As a Christian, he wildly reinvented his past. Now, rather than being a drifter who turned to Frost for spiritual guidance, he was a colleague and business partner of Frost who had been schooled in Wicca by his mother. Of his time in New Bern, he told Keith Morse of the Personal Freedom Outreach Newsletter in 1983, “I had a business worth $42 million, I had a house, I had property, I had automobiles, I had an entourage.” He gave up all these things after being saved, walking away with $5 in his pocket. (2)
Sanguinet established the Witness for Christ Center Outreach and devoted the next several years to disparaging Wicca and preaching against the evils of Halloween, using misinformation culled from various anti-occult sources. He even took aim at Easter, alleging that Christians unwittingly “still greatly honor Astarte with her silly little eggs.”
Easter eggs have no direct link to Astarte, nor any other Pagan deity. The tradition of painting eggs in the springtime seems to have originated among the ancient Zoroastrians, and the practice was later adopted by Christians.
Sanguinet offered up yet another version of the Druidic orgins of Halloween, but it’s so similar to John Todd’s version that I believe Todd’s drivel was a direct influence on Sanguinet:
“Samhain is the time that the Druids (pagans who lived in Northern France) used to demand their yearly sacrifice from the countryside… The Druids would go to a castle or a house and would demand a female for sacrifice and upon receiving their demand, would leave a jack-o’lantern there as a sign of good luck for the year… The price of refusing to give in to the Druid’s demands was high. They would leave a hexagram on the door and usually someone would die. It was either give up a common female or lose your firstborn son… The tradition is carried on in present Halloween practices.” (1)
The female sacrifices and Jack-o’-lantern nonsense come from Todd, but Sanguinet added new factoids about where Druids lived and what they did on Halloween. In other words, nothing in his history lesson is factually correct. He taught that Samhain was traditionally held on the night of the full moon closest to November 1, which is untrue. Samhain always was, and is, on October 31. Druids did not use the hexagram, nor any other written symbol. Pumpkins played no part in their religious rites.
For an entirely different perspective on the origins of Halloween, check out this guest post by schwarherz of the Heathen Ramblings blog, which explains what Halloween really means to today’s Pagan community and how some of its traditions came to be.
Sanguinet also tried to attribute corporate misdeeds to Wicca. “[Wicca] really appeals to big-business men because they can go on slaughtering their opponents and feel like they are helping them to progress. Whereas, as a Christian, you can’t go out and just stomp all over your competitor and have your business be blessed. I can’t.”
Pure nonsense. Wicca is not particularly popular among middle-class businesspeople, and does not in any way promote predatory or unethical business practices. In fact, the Wiccan rede would strongly discourage corrupt business practices. (1)
Sanguinet was just one small voice in the anti-Pagan/anti-occult movement of the ’80s, and has long since crawled back into the woodwork, but his misinformation continues to be spread. See, for instance, this page at The End Times Observer or this post at a blog called Shattered Paradigm.
Wherever you are, Mr. Sanguinet, I tell you this: The Easter Bunny hates liars. No chocolate eggs for you.