Wednesday Weirdness Roundup: Hoaxes of Space, Air and Land

moon_man

NASA totally Photoshopped this.

 

2012 Prediction Fail

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The Winner

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The biggest fail is the late Terence McKenna’s Timewave Zero prediction. First published in 1975, it was predicated on McKenna’s complex novelty theory about the cyclical nature of time, and guesstimated that some kind of awesome singularity would occur in December 2012 (the date was based partly on his own calculations and partly on the Mayan calendar). Just how the arcane ramblings of a chemognostic savante ended up on Discovery Channel specials and in Britney Spears videos is beyond me, but the bottom line is: Nothing happened. No singularity. So let’s move on to that dagger-nailed doyenne of prophetic fail…

Sylvia Browne

Browne played it safe last year by making many of her 2012 forecasts hilariously vague. She asked us to “be mindful of trucks”, said she’s “still worried about trains”, and spoke of “airline difficulties” in several states. Which basically amounts to

look-both-ways

She has stayed away from celebrity predictions altogether lately, since her 2009 prophecy about Clint Eastwood’s varicose veins failed to impress.
Her big prediction was that the economy, the job situation, and the housing market would all improve dramatically. Oh, and taxes would decrease. If by “dramatically”, she meant “somewhat”, then I guess this qualifies as a direct hit. Vagueness occasionally works in her favour.
When she was any more specific than that, she bombed. Here are a few of her biggest misses:

There will be a tsunami in Florida in the fall.
A cure for Multiple Sclerosis will be found.
Obama will not be reelected.

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I’ve skipped most of her weather-related predictions, because they’re basically just variations of “There will be weather”. Glue some fake fingernails on your copy of the Farmer’s Almanac to achieve the same effect.

A few of her predictions did nothing but betray her uneven grasp of the sciences:

Weather stays terribly erratic. We are in a polar tilt.
The hell is a “polar tilt”?
We have to be more cognizant about vaccinations or we are going to have more outbreaks of measles, polio and whooping cough. These vaccines do not cause autism.
You don’t have to be psychic to know this.

A ridiculously safe bet:

There will also be earthquakes in Japan, China and Europe.
There have been major quakes in Japan every year since 2003, and in China since 2008. And there are earthquakes somewhere in Europe pretty much every year.

orsonlikesit

A few of her predictions were just nonsensical:

We will pay more attention to causes for eliminating hunger and animal care.
“More attention” than what? No attention at all?
More people realize this is a new age of enlightenment.
Again with the “more” thing.
We are looking at a time when spirituality is on the upswing.
Dogmatic religions will see their member numbers decrease.

Those last two statements actually contradict each other. Historical trends indicate that in times of economic crisis, spirituality and dogmatic religions flourish. When things get better – as Browne was predicting they would – religious fervour tends to wane. So the chances of a spiritual revival and an economic upswing occurring simultaneously are actually quite slim. Play the odds, Sylvia, play the odds.

Patrick Geryl

Belgian author Patrick Geryl seems to be a cross between the poor man’s Velikovsky and Charles Manson. His website looks sort of sciency, but the core of Geryl’s predictions have nothing to do with science.
Geryl claims he uncovered long-lost prophecies of the ancients by deciphering parts of the Dresden Codex in his own special way.  He combined these prophecies with his own bullshit astronomical observations to come up with the following predictions:

Some kind of solar Armageddon event Geryl called the “killer flare” was supposed to happen on December 20.

Within a few hours, Earth would be surrounded by a plasma cloud with a magnetic field that would “deflect” the earth’s core, causing it to rotate. Since the rotation of the core and the movements of the earth’s crust would be in different directions, massive earthquakes and other upheavals would occur, culminating in something along the lines of

kaboom

Geryl and his handful of followers bunkered up and prepared for the endtimes, thinking they would have to repopulate the ravaged planet and rebuild civilization from scratch. Fortunately for Geryl, all he really has to do in 2013 is get a new domain name.

Ed Dames and other Remote Viewers

On the October 6-7, 2011 broadcast of the paranormal-themed radio show Coast to Coast AM, professional remote viewer Ed Dames predicted a 40% unemployment rate, the imposition of martial law, and mass detainment in FEMA camps within the next two years. He said he didn’t believe there would be a presidential election in 2012 as a result of all this.
Back when he started predicting the “Killshot” (yet another solar flare that was supposed to destroy Earth), Dames’ crack team of remote viewers “saw” a bombed-out stadium and “many thousands” of dead Americans in relation to some unspecified disaster that Dames thought might strike during the Superbowl or the 2012 Olympics. Keep in mind that this guy used to claim a 100% success rate for properly-conducted remote viewing.

In 2008, similar predictions were issued by a team of other military-trained remote viewers working on a project for the Farsight Institute. They were supposed to be remote-viewing climate changes, but instead “saw” a huge meteorite slamming into an ocean, causing tidal waves and volcanic explosions. This would happen by 2013, they said.

NO
For pure psychic lulziness, check out this About.com roundup of predictions from “leading” psychics, ranging from “gold disappoints” to “the Holy Grail will be found”. Here are a few of the highlights:

“Psychic to the Stars” Nikki

These are some of the flat-out weirdest predictions I have ever seen. Nikki seems to be predicting cataclysmic, earth-shattering events on the order of 2012 or Birdemic, but she also takes time out to let us know what will be on TV. Sure, most of us will die, but Ellen stays on the air! And Stallone gets a Tony! So it’s all gonna be okay.

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I’ve tweaked Ms. Nikki’s predictions a little, because as written they look like drunk texts.

An earthquake will destroy most of Mexico City.
There will be a giant earthquake in California.
Animals and birds, wild and domestic, will attack people leading up to the end of 2012.
Someone will find giant prehistoric Sea Monsters under the sea.
There will be major UFO sightings all over the world. A spaceship might land.
North Korea will attack South Korea and Japan.
There will be an attack on the Vatican and the Pope.
Earth will fall off its axis a little more.
The Holy Grail will be found.
A plane crash will crash into the White House.
The map of the world will change because of catastrophic events happening in the world.
Ellen DeGeneres will join the army for one week.
Sylvester Stallone gets nominated for a Tony Award.
Madonna will break a leg.
There will be a National Hockey League for women.

Terry and Linda Jamison, The Psychic Twins

The Psychic Twins look kind of like the little girls from The Shining, all grown up and full of shit. They claim to be the world’s “most documented” psychics, with accurate predictions of 9/11 and the May 2000 stock market crash. So how did the creepy duo make out in 2012?

double

Double your fail!

Terrorist attacks are planned for New York, Washington, Boston, Texas and Florida, but most of them will be thwarted.
Economic growth; no recession; unemployment stays about the same.
Letting go a negative patterns; more acceptance of positive patterns and choices.
Earthquakes in Mexico, eastern and western China, and in Los Angeles in April.

Don’t be sad that the good predictions didn’t pan out. I’m sure the Grail, sea monsters, and “positive patterns” will turn up this year. And even if they don’t, there’s still lots of fun stuff in the future. I, for one, am looking forward to mocking the hell out of Mike “The Health Ranger” Adams’ 20 Dark Predictions for 2013, the Year of Oppression and Insanity, in 2014.

No “Leap of Faith”

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Peter Gersten, the UFO disclosure activist who pledged to pitch himself from the top of Bell Rock in Sedona yesterday, confident that an interdimensional portal would open up and swallow him before he hit the ground, apparently didn’t jump. He showed up at Bell Rock on schedule, but told authorities and reporters he would jump only if the portal appeared. Since I haven’t seen any “ZOMG GIANT PORTAL” stories online today, I’m going to assume Mr. Gersten simply went home to wait for the next hippie doomsday.

“Have you ever seen a portal?”

Have the happiest holidays ever, and we’ll see you in the new year, if Hans can avoid getting baked for someone’s Christmas dinner.

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup: Maybe some people should stick with kitten calendars

space

  • According to Swedish toxicologist Carl Johan Calleman, the Mayan Long Count calendar ended on October 28, 2011. This date was based on his own calculations, and doesn’t seem to have been accepted by any other Mayanists; they’re sticking with the December 21, 2012 end date. Calleman tells us the end of the calendar has resulted in a profound shift in consciousness for a number of people, several of whom now experience a “flattening of time, an end to time acceleration.” I have no idea what that’s all about, but if it means they don’t have to adhere to Daylight Savings, then it’s pretty damned cool.
  • Anyway, this is some very bad news if you’ve been following the story of attorney/UFO disclosure activist Peter Gersten. He plans to pitch himself off the top of Bell Rock in Sedona, Arizona, on December 21, 2012 at 11:11 UT (4:11 AM in Arizona), in the hope an interdimensional portal will open up and catch him before he hits the ground. Gersten fondly calls this plan his “leap of faith”. Other people call it “OMG WHY”. Gersten explains it all in this 2007 interview with ufologist/filmmaker Paul Kimball, who stays a little too calm throughout. (Kimball, on his blog, opines that the leap of faith is “perfectly logical…within the context of Gerston’s stated beliefs”, and that if Gerston jumps, he will “applaud him for having the courage of his convictions.” Whatta pal.)

I doubt that anyone will be able to talk Mr. Gersten out of this, but I’m calling upon anyone who knows him or can get in touch with him to at least try. Failing that, perhaps we can prevail upon the women of Arizona to start knitting the world’s largest net.

The Prodigal Witch XIII: Eric Pryor

The writers at Cornerstone magazine, in exposing the make-believe story of Lauren Stratford, referred to the hoax as “Satan’s sideshow”. If Stratford was the sideshow, the late Eric Pryor was the whole circus.

Eric Pryor in 1990

The late Eric Pryor appears to have literally crawled out of some woodwork. Suddenly, on Halloween 1990, this strange, gawky man with bleached-blonde hair and weird blue eyes appears in front of the San Francisco Civic Auditorium with an eclectic mob of neo-Pagans, gays, and Satanists from the Bay area.

Pryor loudly announces they’re going to perform a “public binding” against Texas televangelist Larry Lea, a vocal opponent of all things occult and gay who is holding one of his “Prayer Breakthrough” rallies at the Auditorium that night. Pryor dramatically burns and hacks up a candle representing Lea, to the amusement of onlookers and TV cameramen. Then the protesters return to their usual lives, and Pryor gets a full-time job preaching the gospel at Jubilee Christian Center, a Pentacostal megachurch in San Jose.

A sample of Larry Lea’s work

Really. It seems that sometime in between the chanting and the effigy-torching, Pryor decided Bible-thumping wasn’t so bad after all.

The day after his protest, he appeared on the San Francisco TV show People are Talking alongside Dick Bernal, head of Jubilee Christian Center. He identified himself as a Wiccan who wanted to prevent witch hunts from breaking out in the Bay area, and was ostensibly trying to prove that neo-Pagans are just like any other socially conscious citizens, worthy of respect and tolerance. But then he screwed the pooch re-enacting a “Wiccan ceremony” he performed on a young woman (his girlfriend Cassandra, as it turned out). In what appeared to be an exorcism, Pryor crouched over Cassandra, making repeated stabbing motions with his athame while chanting something in Hebrew. Public response to the video was less than enthusiastic. Pagans were annoyed, and Christians were appalled. (4)

But the Christians were soon rejoicing, because after the TV appearance, Pryor agreed to meet with Dick Bernal and attend Lea’s service at Jubilee, all expenses paid. On November 17, he was saved. He even allowed his new brothers and sisters in Christ to clear his apartment temple of witchcraft paraphernalia and burn it in a bonfire.

By the end of the year he was in the pulpit as yet another “witch who switched”.

As a Wiccan, Pryor had called himself Lord Gandalf. He claimed to have been the head of the Wiccan New Earth Temple in San Francisco, but no one in the Pagan subculture seemed to know him before his Larry Lea protest, and the “temple” was located in Pryor’s apartment.
At first, he claimed to have had about 75 local followers. In 1991 he claimed “tens of thousands” of followers. (3)  On a January 1992 broadcast of his TV show Change Your Life,
Larry Lea said he had led 50,000 Pagans. (4)

But he revealed that he was more than just a born again neo-Pagan; in New York, he had been a prostitute and belonged to a Satanic cult that delighted in luring strangers to their temple to brutalize and torture. They didn’t actually sacrifice anyone, but they came pretty close.

Weirdly, Pryor also said he had been born again once before (a notion that most Christians reject – you’re born again once, period, and any reversion to your former ways is merely backsliding). This was around 1977, when he was still a teenager.

Further underscoring the supposedly violent nature of occultism, Pryor told Larry Lea that if he hadn’t realized Lea was an okay guy, he might have ended up shooting him. He claimed he had a gun stuffed into his cowboy boot during the protest. Later, he claimed he and the other Pagans were equipped with an entire arsenal: automatic weapons, grenades, dynamite. (4)
As we will see, Pryor was not allowed to possess firearms, yet prominently displayed guns in his apartment and bragged of carrying a shotgun everywhere for protection against Pagan assassins. With his avowed history of violence and homicidal intentions, this should have alarmed his Christian friends. But it did not. They apparently chalked it up to his charming eccentricity. Pryor liked to dress all in black with a Stetson, snakeskin boots, and a duster coat, like some kind of spaghetti Western vigilante. At other times he would don Army fatigues and call himself a “Christian soldier”.

Jubilee Christian Center in San Jose, CA

As an evangelist, Pryor specialized in slaying in the spirit” (sending people into an ecstatic state, knocking them to the ground with a light touch or a spoken command). His services somewhat resembled mass exorcisms, with people flopping into the arms of Pryor’s assistants or onto the floor as he hollered invectives against the Devil. A transcript of one of his services shows that by early ’91 he was already well-schooled in the evangelistic style, knowing just when to fire up the audience and when to pluck their heartstrings. He used just the right combination of humorous patter and earthy spirituality.

Bernal seemed delighted with his catch, referring to Pryor as “the Chief Wiccan of the Wicca cult”. (4)  As a former witch, a former Satanist, and a former prostitute, Pryor was the ideal evangelistic tool for a gay-friendly, Pagan-friendly region. If he had some faults, they could be politely overlooked.

The exact nature of Pryor’s position at Jubilee Christian Center has remained murky, as Dick Bernal gave inconsistent statements about it. He told ABC’s Primetime Live in November 1991 that Pryor received an income of $1000 per month. One month later he told the San Jose Mercury News that Pryor received $500 per month, and had his own office. (3)  In 1996 he told the Metro newspaper that Pryor did not get a salary from Jubilee and was not on staff, but admitted that Pryor got to pocket the donations for all the services he held at Jubilee (though Bernal didn’t mention it, Pryor also made money from videotapes that sold for $12-$45 per copy). (5)
The San Francisco Chronicle‘s Herb Caen reported Pryor made $100,000 in his first year of preaching. Pryor refuted this, insisting he was nearly broke. But he was wearing a Rolex as he said it. (3)
Whatever Pryor’s actual income and position in the church, he did not have any other employment during the 7 years he spent there. His evangelistic roadshow, Christian Gladiator Ministries, operated out of Jubilee. By 1996, he was charging $1300-$1700 per show. (5)

In addition to his preaching, Pryor also became one in a long line of “occult crime experts” who attributed every pentacle spray-painted on an underpass to Satanic criminal gangs. Absurdly, he declared in 1996, “I’m the only one I know of in the country who does this type of investigation.” (3)
His only major gig in this capacity was a “Satanic crime” seminar held on July 26, 1991 at a church in Vancouver, British Columbia. He told the assembled law enforcement officers that Pagans usually act as front-people for Satanic organizations that are involved in criminal enterprises, and urged them to do undercover work against Pagans to expose their “real” activities. He even provided phone numbers of Pagans to get them started.

To bolster his contention that all Pagans and Satanists are bad news, he admitted to committing all sorts of crimes as a Satanist in New York and San Francisco: stockpiling weapons, robbing graves and churches, blackmailing other occultists. He said, “The occult community encompasses murder, drugs and homosexuality. The stuff I share with you could easily get me killed. New Age and Occult practices are becoming more popular and as it becomes more popular it is a cover for criminality.”
He even hinted that Freemasons were part of this occult criminal underworld, claiming his temple had been located inside a Masonic hall (as we know, it was located only in his apartment). He said Satanists commit ritual sacrifices several times a year, breed babies for sacrifice and sale, abduct teenagers, and provide young children to pedophiles (he libelously claimed that the Temple of Set supplies young boys to NAMBLA).

Like ex-Satanists John Todd, Mike Warnke, and Doc Marquis, he claimed the Pagans would have murdered him for defecting. It was all the publicity that attended his conversion to Christianity that scared them away, he said. Nonetheless, he carried a shotgun with him at all times for protection. (4)

Law enforcement agencies were obviously not keen to enlist Pryor’s help, so he resorted to handing out a “Law Enforcement Guide to Satanic Cults” videotape instead. In the video, as in his British Columbia presentation, he placed peculiar emphasis on the link between Paganism (Satanic crime) and homosexuality. This was not an accident. In June 1991, he told a church audience in Cameron Park, “My goal is to destroy Satanism, humanism, paganism, druidism and the practice of homosexuality in our lifetime.” (3)

In November 1991 he wed his girlfriend, Cassandra, in a Jubilee ceremony at which Dick Bernal officiated. Sandra had converted to Christianity, too.

Cassandra and Eric Pryor “marry” (Primetime Live)

The witch who switched” garnered considerable mainstream media attention, much of it negative. In November 1991 ABC’s Primetime Live looked into Pryor as part of its investigation into the ministries of Larry Lea and other televangelists. Diane Sawyer said, “We discovered right away Eric Pryor was never a major leader of the Pagans.” Primetime also learned his first marriage had never been dissolved, and the ceremony with Cassandra was just for show (Bernal even admitted he knew Pryor was already married). The man who filmed the ceremony, Eric Marsh, claims he saw Bernal and Pryor “signing what appeared to be a wedding license. Pryor started to ask me if I would like to witness it but Bernal cut him off.”
There is no doubt that Pryor tried to pass this off as a legal union. Lea proudly told Diane Sawyer that Eric had married his live-in girlfriend, and Pryor himself announced to a Denver audience that he was a married man (which was true enough, but the woman he named wasn’t his wife). (6)
Also, despite the fact that donations were pouring in during his spectacular church services, Pryor had not resumed child support payments for his two children from his first marriage (a warrant was issued against him for nonsupport in 1993).
Diane Sawyer also revealed that Larry Lea’s ministry had been giving Pryor money. (2)
The Mercury News reported that Jubilee moved Pryor out of his Tenderloin hovel, buying him a golf course condo in Santa Clara. Bernal claimed the move was strictly a safety precaution, as San Francisco Pagans were gunning for Pryor. (3)  (Pryor complained that Pagans were attacking and menacing him, but he was the only one throwing around unsubstantiated accusations and behaving in a threatening manner. He continually warned Christian audiences that Pagans and Satanists are child-stealing, murderous perverts. He also encouraged the police to harass them and interfered with their ceremonies.)

There has been speculation that Larry Lea, Dick Bernal, and/or someone in their ministries hired Eric Pryor to fake a miraculous conversion as a publicity stunt, and there is a lot of circumstantial evidence for that. It’s also possible that Pryor engineered the stunt himself: One former Pagan who met Pryor shortly before the anti-Lea demonstration, Eric Marsh, claims Pryor discussed “putting on ‘an act’ of going over to the Christians so that he could go undercover and get the dirt’ on them.”
Lea is certainly not above suspicion. Like so many televangelists before and after him, he has a history of scamming. The same year he saved Pryor, he held a fund drive to build the first Christian church at Auschwitz. However, the church had already existed for two years and was paid for entirely by Polish Pentacostals. Lea gave the church a $30,000 donation, but his ministry had nothing to do with its creation. (2)

Eric’s Prior Life

Details of Pryor’s early life are sketchy, and the information he gave about his background varied over time.

He was born in 1959. He said his childhood in Woodstock, New York, was marred by neglect and abuse. He was often in foster care due to his mother’s mental illness. He spent much of his time studying occult books at the public library. (5) He was attracted to occultism, in part, because one of his grandfathers was a founding member of the American Nazi party and practiced mystical Nazism (Pryor stated, incorrectly, that Hitler himself was an initiate of the Golden Dawn and the Ordo Templi Orientis). When he was 10 years old, the neo-Nazis burned some sort of insignia onto young Eric’s right arm to mark him as one of their own (he never displayed it publicly). (4)
Like several of the people we’ve seen in this series, Pryor claimed a childhood devotion to God that paved the way for salvation later in life. Just as Lauren Stratford described asking Jesus to be her daddy when she was 4 years old, Pryor said he knelt down at the age of 4 and asked God to be his daddy. (6) Pardon my cynicism, but I suspect he had a copy of Satan’s Underground in that Santa Clara condo.

Because of the abuse, Eric ran away from home and became a child prostitute in New York City at the age of 12. He met Herman Slater, owner of the city’s most famous occult bookstore, Magickal Childe. It was Slater, he said, who initiated him into Wicca and tutored him in the occult. Eric was such a quick study that Slater commissioned him to write sections of the two-volume Book of Pagan Rituals (1974-75) when he was just 14 years old. By the time he was 15, he said, “People were already starting to name babies after me! I was like a Mozart of the occult community, the prodigal child!” (6)
As a Christian, Pryor viciously (but ridiculously) slandered Slater by stating that Magickal Child sold snuff videos via its mail-order catalogues, and that Slater and other Pagans used him as a teenage temple prostitute.

He went on to study under Lady Sabrina of the Wiccan school Our Lady of Enchantment and Carol Bulzone, a witch of the Welsh tradition. For a time he worked at Bulzone’s occult bookshop, Enchantments. He was later granted a certificate of ordination by Gavin and Yvonne Frost’s Church of Wicca, and reached the third level of Gardnerian Wicca under priestess Rolla Nordic. He referred to himself as a Welsh High Priest and a reverend. He worked with prominent witch Laurie Cabot and Pagan musicians Kenny and Tzipora Klein.

Prior to being born again, he was also a Satanist thug, a parapsychologist with an honorary doctorate from the American Parapsychology Research Association, and a licensed funeral director and mortician (which enabled him to procure bodies and body parts for necromancy).
There’s no evidence that Pryor had any sort of honorary doctorate, nor that he ever possessed a mortician’s license, but we do know he made the abrupt leap from Wicca to Satanism sometime in the late ’70s or early ’80s. Just as he would later do in California, he tried to draw teenagers into his orbit. We also know that he had a rather lengthy criminal record. (4)

In 1982 he wed his first wife, Nichole, in a prison ceremony. He was serving time for a drunken assault, and fighting extradition to Texas on armed robbery charges of which he would ultimately be convicted.
The Pryors had two children. Though he never mentioned this part of his past to his born again friends, the marriage was volatile. Pryor was once arrested for shooting out the windows of his house while Nichole and their son were inside. She left him around 1987.

In 1988, Eric sought the greener pastures of California. He established his New Earth Temple in his San Francisco apartment and joined the Bay Area Pagan Assemblies. He later claimed, falsely, that he was a board member of BAPA.

Two years later, he found Jesus.
Pryor established a somewhat respectable Christian life for himself, or so it seemed at first. After his “marriage” to Sandra ended, he wed a young Christian mother, Shelly Kolt, in July 1994.
Sadly, while Eric’s zeal for devil worship may have faded, his penchant for violence had not. Just one month after his wedding he was charged with spousal abuse and assault with a deadly weapon (a knife). During his arrest by Mountain View police, he lashed out drunkenly and had to be placed in restraints. He later insisted that Shelly was the real aggressor, though she had no record of domestic assault, and complained the police “failed to protect” him.
So did a judge, apparently. Pryor spent several months of 1995 in jail.
According to Shelly, Eric assaulted her and threatened to kill her because she was considering leaving him. At that time, according to court records, Pryor was negotiating a six-figure book and TV deal with the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and the deal required him to remain married (to one woman at a time, of course). (5)

Pryor soon married his assistant, another young Christian mother named Renee.

The Witch Who Switched and Then Switched Again and Then Switched Again and Then Switched Again

The story so far is that Eric Pryor was a witch who briefly became a Christian in the late ’70s, then returned to Wicca, then became a Satanist simultaneously (though Wicca and Satanism are incompatible belief systems), then became a Christian again.

Exactly 7 years after being born again, Pryor parted ways with Jubilee and Christ. He grumbled about the church’s “money-grubbing” and “hypocrisy”.
The following year, he and a small gaggle of New Age followers rented a 38-room mansion Pryor claimed was once owned by Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery and set up the Serene Foundation to endorse a peculiar mix of Christianity, Satanism and shamanism. Pryor pledged to cure drug addiction and other disorders with natural healing and faith healing, claiming to possess potent gifts, and announced his intention to train a team of “shamanic prophets” to perform the same feats. His decision to become a full-time healer is unnerving in light of what he told a Christian audience in Salem, Massachusetts, back in 1992: As a Wiccan, he said, he charged clients “a thousand dollars to put a piece of quartz crystal on their heads and burn enough incense to kill a thousand mosquitoes.” (4)

The Serene Foundation’s grand opening was held on Halloween, with teenagers invited to join a “healing circle” at the mansion.
Pryor cultivated a new, kookier image and excitedly courted the small amount of media attention his return to Satanism attracted. He took to wearing leopard-print robes and colourful Satanic vestments embroidered with crosses.

Though he boasted of commanding $20,000 per public appearance as an evangelist, the truth was much sadder. The money he had earned with Jubilee Christian Center and Christian Gladiator Ministries was mostly gone by the end of the 1998. He could no longer afford the rent on the Bewitched mansion and had to relocate his temple of healing to a jumble of ramshackle buildings on Vine Hill Road, optimistically named Happy Valley Estates. He tried to establish a halfway rehab house for teens, and held healing services on a cement “healing table” in the yard of the Happy Valley mansion. Various priests, priestesses, and spiritual seekers found their way to the Foundation to take shrooms and grab some enlightenment, but it never drew the kind of attention or funds Pryor seemed to crave.
His spirituality seemed to consist of a melange of Satanism, Native American traditions, and Wicca. He made his teenage stepdaughter a “high priestess”. In short, he was probably the only person in this series to have a real life every bit as weird as his fantasy life.

And now things get just a little stranger. According to an obituary published by the Christian magazine Charisma in 2009, Pryor resumed Christian preaching. After moving to Carson City, Nevada, in the late ’90s, he and Renee founded a Christian ministry called Peculiar Nation, and Pryor preached occasionally at churches and Christian events until the time of his death.
It’s quite possible that Peculiar Nation was a Pagan or Satanic effort that Charisma mistook for a Christian ministry (the author doesn’t even mention Pryor’s defection from the church), but given Pryor’s erratic nature, I wouldn’t be shocked if he tried to return to the fold.

And stranger still, Pryor reinvented himself as a pop artist.
Now, instead of being a teen prostitute and a wicked Satanist during his New York years, he was an assistant to Andy Warhol at the Factory, studied advertising and design at New York University’s Center for the Media Arts and worked as an illustrator at Dentsu Advertising. He later earned a degree from the California College of Fine art and pioneered what he called the “neobyzentine-pop” [sic] art style.
Needless to say, not one of these things actually happened. And the artist’s bio, apparently written by Pryor himself, sheds a very bright light on his years as a witch/former witch/former former witch: “Both classically trained and self taught, Mr. Pryor’s work has become very successful and his ‘antics’ & ‘episodes’ have become fodder for many national and international news stories both in print and on air.”

What Was Eric Pryor, Exactly?

A witch? A Satanist? A Christian pretending to be a former Satanist? A Former Satanist pretending to be a Christian? An attention whore? A performance artist? A very confused man?

Damned if I know.

It’s quite possible that Pryor’s 1990 conversion was a PR stunt. In addition to the statements made by Pagans he knew (see below) and the statement in his artist’s bio, the Primetime Live investigation discovered that Larry Lea’s ministry gave Pryor cash after his conversion.
What is obvious is that despite all his alleged instruction from prominent East Coast Wiccans, Pryor had an incredibly weak understanding of Paganism, Satanism, and the occult. In a video presentation produced by Jubilee Christian Center shortly after his conversion, From Pagan to Pentacost, Pryor referred to a paperback copy of the Simon Necronomicon as an ancient and evil tome. He called temples “covendoms” and Pagan grottoes “groves”. He declared that only Wiccans can become Satanists (false), said Hitler was an OTO and Golden Dawn member (false), and performed an exorcism (something Pagans and Satanists generally don’t do; they seldom believe in literal demons).

Since evangelical Christians tend to embrace former witches and ex-Satanists without any sort of background checks, sorting out the facts and factoids of Pryor’s many claims fell to the Pagan community. Investigations were undertaken by BAPA (to which Pryor had belonged only briefly, never serving on the board), Covenant of the Goddess, and Kerr Cuhulain. Their findings revealed that Pryor may have associated with at least one Satanist in New York (a guy named Pete Colon), but his stellar Wiccan credentials were b.s.:

  • Pryor did meet Herman Slater as a youth, but he was 17, not 12. This would have been around 1977, the exact same time Pryor was supposedly born again. If that date is correct, Pryor could not possibly have helped Slater compile A Book of Pagan Rituals. Slater vaguely recalled that Lady Rhea, his high priestess, may have initiated Eric into the Welsh tradition.
  • Carol Bulzone never met Pryor. And as a participant in all the initiation rituals done by Lady Rhea since 1975, she was certain Lady Rhea never initiated Pryor.
  • Lady Sabrina said she never heard of Pryor, and could find no record of Pryor taking the correspondence course offered by Our Lady of Enchantment.
  • Gavin and Yvonne Frost didn’t know Pryor, have no record of him as one of their mail order students, and did not ordain him.
  • Rolla Nordic also said she had never met Pryor, and couldn’t have initiated him into a Gardnerian tradition because she was a practitioner of the Welsh tradition. In January 1991, after Pryor’s conversion to Christianity, he sent Rolla Nordic an initiation certificate he created himself, asking Nordic to sign it. It stated Pryor was initiated by Nordic in 1977. Clearly, he was hoping Nordic would sign the thing without question. She didn’t.
  • Laurie Cabot stated she did not know Pryor, and he had no involvement with her Witches’ League for Public Awareness.
  • In the early ’80s, Kenny and Tzipora Klein gave Pryor and his first wife a place to shower when they were homeless in New York, and that was all. They didn’t work together. In September 1990, Kenny and Tzipora ran into Eric at a benefit concert in Oakland, California. He told them that he’d just come into large amount of money and was organizing a benefit concert for the homeless for Jubilee Christian Center (there was no such concert). He also mentioned he was organizing the demonstration against Larry Lea. Now that’s odd. By all accounts, Eric had no affiliation with Jubilee prior to the Lea protest. This lends some support to the theory that the entire Lea affair was a mock-protest, designed to hype Lea’s crusade and introduce a Satanist-turned-Christian to Jubilee (as we have seen, evangelical and Pentacostal churches love to have their own in-house former Satanists). Kerr Cuhulain learned from the Kleins that Larry Lea may have been the chaplain of the Texas prison where Pryor served his sentence for armed robbery, and speculates the two men could have met at that time. Eric’s attempt to establish Wiccan credentials for himself after becoming a Christian also hints at something funky about his dramatic conversion. Is it possible that Larry Lea persuaded a prison inmate to stage a mock-protest and a mock-conversion? Or did Pryor, knowing about Lea from his time in Texas, simply decide to protest his presence in a city that is, for the most part, friendly to gays and Pagans? We’ll probably never know. (4)

Eric’s account of his childhood may be more legit than his Wiccan credentials. An uncle told the Wiccan researchers that Eric left home at the age of 14 and became a prostitute, developing drug and alcohol problems. In California, he finally sought psychiatric and medical treatment for his substance abuse issues. After being born again, however, he went off his meds and discontinued therapy, falling back into his old patterns of drinking, drugs, and violent behaviour.

On June 7, 2009, Pryor was hit by a truck while crossing a street in Carson City, Nevada, and died of his injuries.

Sources:

1. 6500 Christians Attend S.F. ‘Exorcism‘” by Don Lattin and David Tuller. San Francisco Chronicle. November 1, 1990.
2. Primetime Live report “The Apple of God’s Eye.” Broadcast November 21, 1991. (available on YouTube)
3.Reborn Again?” by Dave O’Brien. San Jose Mercury News. December 14, 1991.
4. “Eric Pryor” by Kerr Cuhulain @ Witchvox
5. Prophet Seeking” by Bob Hansen. 1996 Metro article @ Metroactive.com.
6. Transcript of testimony given by Eric Pryor at Victory in Jesus Church in Denver, Colorado, on February 4, 1991
7.
The Witch Who Switched Back” by Traci Hukill. October 29-November 4, 1998 issue of Metro @ Metroactive.com.

Anti-Occult Nonsense On Stilts: Kurt Koch’s Occult ABC


In the world of anti-occult zealotry, Kurt Koch is something of a legend. A Lutheran pastor in Germany, he traveled the world addressing churches of nearly every denomination for over half a century, and claimed to have counseled about 20,000 people by the late ’70s.

I was *lucky* enough to score a copy of his most famous book, Occult ABC, at my local secondhand bookshop.

While it’s hard not to admire Koch’s deep religious devotion, it’s pretty easy to hate this book. Originally published in 1978, it reads like it was written in the early ’50s and consists almost entirely of anecdotes – mostly secondhand stories told by missionaries and pastors. You know the kind: “You wouldn’t believe what these savages are doing!” Koch even includes the old legend of the Hippie Babysitter and the Roasted Baby, substituting devil worshippers for the hippie. He also promotes the b.s. stories of “former Satanists” like Doreen Irvine and Mike Warnke. A big part of the reason Koch falls for this blarney is explained on p. 229: “When people have been convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit and have received Jesus Christ as their Lord, they generally speak the truth.”

As you’ve probably guessed, just about everything that doesn’t involve Bible-reading and praying to Jesus is “occult” in Koch’s opinion. He devotes sections to acupuncture, homosexuality, porn, yoga, meditation, “descent from the ape”, Freemasonry, and of course rock music. And Koch believes that any degree of occult influence can afflict multiple generations (the “sins of the father”), causing everything from skin diseases to demonic possession.

The wisdom Koch dispenses is often wildly contradictory. For instance, he maintains that all precognitive powers come from Satan, yet implies several times that it can be 100% accurate and that only a fool would ignore a warning from a psychic.
He stresses that some mental illnesses have natural causes and can be treated by psychiatry, while others are occult in origin and must be treated spiritually. But then he states that occult involvment isn’t the cause of mental illness; it just paves the way for mental illness to develop.
He describes many cases in which occultists changed their evil ways because a spouse or parent prayed for their salvation for many years. Later, he tells us never to pray for occultists unless they have explicitly expressed a desire to change, because it simply won’t work.

Some of his examples are just plain creepy. Koch boasts that Mirin Dajo died because some Christians prayed for his sword-piercing trick to fail onstage, and it did. (Actually, it didn’t. Dajo died after slipping into a coma, and he was not performing at the time.)
In another example, Koch writes of a man who foolishly yoked himself to a non-Christian wife and spent the rest of his life regretting it. His poor son-in-law got so tired of the woman’s nagging that he boxed her ears until she shut up. The lesson seems to be that it’s A-OK to smack your mother-in-law around if she’s a non-Christian.
Once, when a woman with a nasty skin disease consulted him, Koch asked her “how she ever got married in such a condition.” Nice.
Then there was the little girl who become “dreadfully depraved” after being treated by a nature healer. “At the age of ten she seduced a married man – not vice versa.” Where have I heard that before? Oh, right, from child molesters.

Here are just a few choice bits from Occult ABC:

  • Christian Scientists ganged up to psychically murder a man who left the church, giving him a skin disease that caused him to shed his skin “like a snake.”
  • Sorcerors in East Timor engage in “criminal activity” by projecting parts of their spirits into owls, which fly to the homes of enemies to steal pieces of the enemies’ livers.
  • After signing a pact with the Devil, a German woman become possessed and was repeatedly squished by a giant, invisible snake. Koch recorded about 100 cases of such blood pacts, and states that in the previous 20 years, “tens of thousands of young people have signed their souls to the Devil in their own blood.” As with every other statistic in the book, we have no idea where he got these numbers.
  • Elves are real.
  • All hypnosis is dangerous, even stage hypnosis. If you allow yourself to be hypnotized by one, you may become a drunk like this one chick in Argentina. Stage hypnotists are criminals.
  • If you go to an iridologist, you might become a wife-beating drunk like this one dude.
  • If an occultist becomes a Christian, the Devil will be furious and will do everything in his power to oppose you. So you might become a wife-beater anyway, like this other dude.
  • UFOs are heralds of the Antichrist.
  • Gospel singer Henry Drummond, before becoming a Christian, could hypnotize people at a distance of 50 miles.
  • A woman with legs of unequal length went to a “spiritist healer” for healing, and the shorter leg magically grew. But when she became a Christian, it shrank.
  • You must never collect bric-a-brac from non-Christian cultures. “A minister’s wife on Prince Edward Island had collected a whole table-full of figures of gods and cultic objects from the mission field. Today she is in a mental institution.”
  • About 50% of the compulsive neurotics Koch counseled had connections with spiritism or magic in their backgrounds, hence these things cause compulsive neuroses. (Keep in mind that Koch has no training in psychology.)
  • Uri Geller is really psychic, and everyone who found their cutlery bent after one of his TV broadcasts had some psychic ability, as well. “Only the ignorant make fun of these things.”
  • “Voodoo” practitioners drink blood and sacrifice children.
  • In his chapter on Freemasonry, Koch writes that “French historians like Abbe Barnuel maintain that the French Revolution” was engineered by Masons. First of all, it’s Barruel. Secondly, he was not a historian. He was a conspiranoid priest who later rewrote his anti-Masonic thesis, shifting blame to the Jews.
  • Koch takes the view that porn is a Communist device to weaken the morals of Westerners. Perversion for Profit, anyone?
  • Anonymous psychiatrist: “The ouija board is filling our pyschiatric clinics in New York.”
  • Koch on the manufacturers of ouija boards: “If the American government knew how much evil this one firm in Massassachusetts has brought on the American people, they would prohibit the production of these devilish boards at once.”
  • Some Africans can turn themselves into leopards.
  • “I go to the dentist when it is necessary. But I always pray when I go, for dental treatment can last six months and cause much pain.” (I’m guessing this wouldn’t have been the case if he went to the dentist more than “necessary”…)
  • In the Arctic, archaeologists found bones that were said to be 20,000 years old. “I am somewhat skeptical about this claim.”
  • On astrology: “There really ought to be a law prohibiting this and all other forms of fortune-telling. Astrology has been responsible for a number of suicides and murders.”
  • You must not touch a practicing medium. You might get an electric shock, like this one guy.

And so on. From what I’ve seen, all Koch’s books are like this one – so I won’t be reading any of them.

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup

“The Wikipediatrician”, Nataliedee.com
  • “The 10 Biggest Hoaxes in Wikipedia’s First 10 Years”. I like the one where the founder of Orange Julius created a shower stall for pigeons, but I notice that the really big hoaxes (like the Essjay thing) aren’t mentioned. That’s okay, though, because you can find most of them on Wikipedia itself. There’s even an entry for “the reliability of Wikipediaon Wikipedia.
  • According to one blogger, Black Swan is chock full of Satanic Illuminati New World Order mind control imagery. She’s not so worried about the violence or the insanity or the lesbian sex, but the triangles are a dead giveaway…
  • If I said “serial killer nun harem”, I’m guessing you’d draw a blank. Allow me to fill that in for you… In the ’60s and ’70s, the “nuns” of preacher DeVernon LeGrand were a common sight at Grand Central Station and on the streets of Brooklyn. Wearing black habits, the women begged for spare change on a daily basis. What Brooklynites probably didn’t know was that the “nuns” constituted LeGrand’s personal harem, giving birth to dozens of his children in the four-story brownstone that housed St. John’s Pentecostal Church of Our Lord. While the women and children begged for food and money, the preacher wore silk suits and cruised the city in a Cadillac. When he found a woman (or, more often, girl) that he liked, he persuaded her to visit the brownstone.
    But not all of these women were willing victims. Three times between 1965 and 1975, LeGrand was charged with kidnapping and assault. Only in ’75 did criminal charges finally stick, when LeGrand was convicted of bribery. Later that year, he and his 26-year-old son Noconda were convicted of raping a 17-year-old “nun”.  LeGrand’s peculiar tribe also set up shop in the Catskills, operating a woodsy retreat near White Sulphur Springs. Locals continually complained of loud parties, gunfire, and wandering children. As in New York, nuns and kids begged for money and food.In 1975, two teenage church members went missing. Yvonne Rivera, 16, and her sister Gladys Stewart, 18, had provided testimony for the prosecution in LeGrand’s bribery trial, but couldn’t be located when the D.A. sought their testimony in the rape case. Gladys was married to one of LeGrand’s sons or stepsons.
    The church handyman revealed that both girls had been murdered by LeGrand and his stepson Steven in the Crown Heights chapel. Their remains were flung into Briscoe Lake, near the Catskills retreat. It is suspected the preacher also killed at least two of his wives, Ernestine Timmon and Ann Sorise, as well as over a dozen church members who had gone missing. LeGrand died in prison in 2006.

    Here’s the kicker:
    LeGrand’s “church” is still in operation. Now headed by Noconda and his wife Mindy, it consists of at least one habit-garbed faux nun – Mindy herself. She was sought last year for allegedly raising funds for a nonexistent orphanage. When health inspectors searched church headquarters, Mindy’s son Quomenters said numerous orphans were being cared for there, but nine of them were at the White Sulphur Springs retreat.

  • Hopefully you’ve already encountered this in your online travels, but here’s the deal with the “new” Zodiac signs: According to a recent article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Zodiac sign designations that astrologers have used from time immemorial are no longer valid, because Earth isn’t in the same alignment with the constellations of the Zodiac as it was back in the day. Astronomer Parke Kunkle suggested the dates be revised, which means some people born under a certain sign would find themselves with an entirely different Zodiac sign.
    If true, this does absolutely no favours for astrology. It makes the whole endeavour look sort of, well, arbitrary or confused (to be nice about it).
    So, is it true?
    Yes. And no. Yes, because users of the Sideral Zodiac actually do rely on the positions of the stars. And no, because the average Western astrologer doesn’t use the Sidereal Zodiac. Astrologers typically use the Tropical Zodiac, which is based on the movement of the sun across the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and the equator, dividing the Zodiac into twelve sectors that remain the same from year to year. The new alignment does not affect their calculations, in other words.
    It does mean, however, that you may actually have two different Zodiac signs. It would depend on what kind of astrologer you consult. Food for thought.

Fake Teens Part VII: The Messiah

Before moving on to 2011, I have one last fake teen tale for you. I’ve saved the most unsettling one for last, probably because I don’t even like thinking about it. Please proceed with caution.

Place: Kurim, Czech Republic
Time: May 10, 2007

In some ways, Moravia is the perfect setting for a tale of Gothic horror. The ancient cities of the South Moravian Region are still dominated by the dark architecture of the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries. In Brno, not far from Kurim, the Gothic Revival spires of the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul pierce the sky like black daggers, and icons representing the legendary beast that once terrorized the city loom everywhere.

But the South Moravian Region is also modern and ambitious, with glassy business districts and stunning functionalist architecture like Brno’s Exhibition Centre. City-dwellers are predominantly middle-class, and the crime rates are respectably low. All in all, today’s Moravia is not a place you would expect to find the macabre.

In a quiet, middle-class neighborhood in Kurim, a man installed a CCTV baby monitor to keep an eye on his sleeping newborn son. These devices sometimes snag signals from other monitors nearby, but the new father was certainly not prepared for what he saw. Instead of his child’s crib, another image appeared on the screen: A small boy, perhaps 7 or 8 years old, huddled on a cement floor in a confined space. He was nude, dirty, and bound.

Police conducted a door-to-door search to find this little boy. Most neighborhood residents were cooperative, even helpful. Then officers reached a cheerful yellow house with a red roof, occupied by two attractive sisters. Klara Mauerova, a 31-year-old blonde somewhat resembling Renee Zellweger, was a single mother of three children. Her dark-haired sister, 33-year-old Katerina Mauerova, lived with her.

The Mauerova sisters allowed police, led by officer Miroslav Gregor, to search their home, but vehemently balked at opening a locked closet door. The investigators summoned firemen to bust the lock. In a cramped space, they found the boy: Klara’s younger son, 8-year-old Ondrej. Trapped in the windowless space in his own excrement and vomit, the boy was suffering dehydration.

Needless to say, Klara was arrested and all three of her children were immediately taken into custody.
Jakub
was two years older than Ondrej. The boys told police and social workers that their mother and their Aunt Katerina had been abusing them since the previous July. Abuse isn’t really the right word, though. Jakob and Ondrej had been tortured. Klara and Katerina sexually abused them, beat them with belts, confined them in dog cages, burned them with cigarettes, chained them to furniture, dunked their heads underwater until they thought they would drown, and locked them in closets without food or clothing. The boys had also been forced to cut themselves with knives, and Ondrej’s skin had been sliced off in strips. The adults then consumed his raw flesh.
The two boys insisted they had deserved to be punished for bad behaviour, and anxiously protected their abusers. As it turned out, their mother and aunt had not been the only adults involved.
The only child in the household who escaped this malevolence was 13-year-old Anicka, or Anna, a tiny, shy girl who seemed very young for her age. Her owl-eyed face was dominated by enormous granny glasses, and she clutched a teddy bear as officers questioned her. In the only known photo of the entire family, taken on a canoe trip, Anna looks down at her feet instead of at the camera while a smiling Klara hugs her tightly. She seemed so socially inept that Officer Gregor referred to her in his report as a “wild girl”.
But it turned out that Anicka wasn’t Klara’s natural child. The young mother explained that Anicka had been abandoned on her late grandmother’s doorstep by drug addicts as an infant. After her grandmother’s death, Klara raised the child her as her own. She had legally adopted the girl just two months earlier.
The three Mauerova children were placed in a children’s home.


Disturbingly, Katerina Mauerova was employed by a youth centre called Paprsek. And Klara has a university degree in pedagogy.

The abuse seemed incomprehensible – the Mauerovas had no known history of violence or child abuse – but investigators soon discovered what they believed to be the explanation for it: Katerina belonged to an offshoot of a little-known religious organization known as the Grail Movement.
On May 19, the Czech newspaper Mlada Fronta DNES siezed on this connection, sparking lurid media stories about the “Grail Movement cult” and its child-abusing, flesh-eating members.
But Grail Movement members do not eat human flesh, nor do they typically turn their homes into torture chambers. The cult Katerina joined was, at most, a mutant offspring of the Grail Movement. In 2009, the Grail Movement Foundation in the Czech Republic successfully sued Mlada Fronta DNES for libel, forcing the paper to print a retraction.

The case became more troubling and sinister when little Anicka went missing from the Klokanek children’s home. During her short time in care, she had lost a lot of weight and appeared to be more confused and troubled than her little brothers. She told a doctor who examined her that she was actually a boy, which was clearly not the case in any physical sense. She was already developing breasts.

The police were beginning to learn that despite the adoption proceedings, Klara hadn’t really treated the girl like one of her own children. Anicka had never attended school like the boys and had no medical records, which indicated she had lived in seclusion for much – if not all – of her young life. Klara claimed Anicka suffered a “social disorder” that made traditional schooling impossible, but given Klara’s track record… well, she wasn’t the most reliable mother in the Czech Republic, was she?
Police couldn’t locate Anicka’s biological parents, nor were they able to find any documents to confirm her identity. Her father, Viktor Skala, had appeared in court to relinquish his rights to the girl back in March, but there was no proof that he was Anicka’s real father.
Stranger still, neighbors of Klara’s late grandmother couldn’t recall ever seeing a young child around her house.

Klara Mauerova, 2008

A nationwide search for the girl commenced immediately. It seemed almost certain that Klara, and/or one of her cohorts, had abducted Anicka when she was younger. And that someone had abducted her from the children’s home to prevent her from disclosing more of the family’s secrets.
In late May, letters from Anicka were received by President Václav Klaus, a state official, and a national newspaper. The girl begged for clemency for her adoptive mother.

Norway, Winter 2007

Adam Fahrner, the 13-year-old son of Czech theater manager Martin Fahrner, was placed in an emergency youth shelter in Oslo. His teachers and psychologists believed his family, recently emigrated from the Czech Republic, had been abusing him in odd and sadistic ways. He talked of being beaten, burned with cigarettes, and sold into child prostitution by his own father from a young age.
Since his enrollment in the autumn, it had been obvious to staff at the Marienlyst school in Oslo that Adam was troubled in some way. Though his work was decent, he seemed skittish and uneasy all the time. He didn’t socialize much, and flat-out refused to take part in any sports activities.

In mid-December, Adam disappeared from the youth home in Oslo.
Missing child posters went up all over Norway. The boy usually had a shaved head and wore a black watchcap, but if he had run away and didn’t want to be found, he could change his appearance easily.
Fortunately, he didn’t. Adam was spotted in the northern city of Tromsoe, by someone who had glimpsed him on a missing child poster.
He had appeared in Tromsoe immediately after his disappearance, in the company of an adult friend named Michal Riha, and was placed in a youth home there.
Adam was returned to Oslo, where the police somehow learned that the real Adam Fahrner was still in the Czech Republic. This Adam was a 33-year-old woman named Barbora Skrlova, wanted in Kurim for abusing two little boys named Jakub and Ondrej Mauerova.

You see, Barbora Skrlova was also “Anicka“. To my knowledge, she is the only teen imposter to successfully pass as a girl and a boy.

As I mentioned earlier, the Mauerova sisters hadn’t been Ondrej and Jakub’s only abusers. Their other tormentors included their “adopted sister” Barbora Skrlova, Barbora’s 25-year-old brother Jan Skrla, 28-year-old Hana Basova , and 25-year-old Jan Turek. All worked at the Brno youth centre Paprsek with Katerina, and all were reportedly connected to a Grail Movement offshoot led by Barbora’s 75-year-old father, Josef Skrla. The old man had apparently crafted a hiking club into his personal religious group. Because his club was known as “The Ants“, some reports refer to the cult members by the same name.
In 2005, the Mauerova sisters took Barbora into their home. That’s when Barbora began instructing Klara on how to break the will of her sons. She enlisted other members of the cult to assist in this effort, and beginning in July 2006 the group operated its own torture chamber in the little yellow house in Kurim. Barbora and Klara supposedly took orders to “train” the Mauerova children from a mysterious doctor who sent detailed instructions via text messages. We do not know if such a person exists.

What we do know for certain is that there were many “Ants” involved in the Mauerova case. In addition to the elderly Josef Skrla (who has not been charged with any crime in relation to the case), they are: Viktor Skala, a Czech actor who posed as “Anicka’s” father in court during the adoption proceedings; Martin Fahrner and his wife; and Michal Riha, the man who brought “Adam” to Tromsoe.

Martin Farhner and his wife were such loyal members of the group that they agreed to let Barbora impersonate their 13-year-old son, using the boy’s passport to smuggle her into Denmark and then Norway. She was already a fugitive by that time, because in late May one of Katerina’s friends had revealed that little “Anicka” was really a grown woman. Just why cult members helped her pass herself off as a teenager is still unclear. There have been suggestions that Skrla and/or some of his Ants were attempting to present Barbora as a child messiah like Krishnamurti or Sai Baba, to draw more followers. Barbora herself has said she created the Anicka persona as a way to cope with reality, a familiar refrain in the world of fake teens.

Josef Skrla remains a murky but persistent presence in the case. According to one report in the South African Independent, he has gone missing. Though the media and a few anonymous sources have painted him as the unseen puppetmaster of the whole affair, no one actually knows if Skrla himself had any involvement in his children’s bizarre activities in Kurim – or if he even knew about them. It’s possible that Barbora and/or her brother Jan crafted their own little cult in Kurim.

Barbora was returned to the Czech Republic to face fraud charges. On the plane, she clasped a teddy bear and other toys.
To this day, not much is known of this strange little woman. She reportedly studied music at Brno’s Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts, and wanted to be a composer. For a time she shared an apartment with Katerina (she may also have worked with her), and feigned being a cancer patient. She had Katerina tell classmates that she had died of leukemia, then resurfaced (with the help of Katerina and others) as a Norwegian orphan named Anna Jervinen. “Anna” first began visiting Klara’s house in 2005, in the company of Katerina. Klara told the Czech magazine Tyden that Anna had some of the characteristics of a feral child at that time; she still drank from baby bottles, and played with baby rattles, though she could converse in three languages (Norwegian, Czech, and English).

Klara claims she was duped into believing Anicka was an abused orphan from Norway, then manipulated into torturing her sons by Anicka, her sister, and that elusive doctor. (She gave investigators the name of a man from Azerbaijan. Neither Czech police nor Interpol could find a person by that name. This brings to mind “Avery” in the Rose Turford/Joyce Stevens case.)
It’s entirely possible that Klara was duped to some extent. Police determined that those text messages originated not from Azerbaijan, but from her sister’s cell phone.
The only problem with Klara’s version of the story is that when “Anicka” was scheduled to appear in court during the adoption proceedings in 2007, the daughter of another cult member (perhaps Viktor Skala) was brought in to play the part.

Barbora Skrlova pled innocence, as well. She said the Mauerova sisters and Hana Basova tortured her just as they did Ondrej and Jakub, and were plotting to sell her and the boys into child sex slavery. They drugged her, beat her, and sexually assaulted her with sharp objects (the latter allegation is particularly unlikely; a physical exam showed Skrlova to be a virgin).
Oddly, she is indignant that Ondrej exaggerated the extent of his abuse. (He actually downplayed it dramatically at first, shielding Barbora and the others.)
What Barbora hasn’t fully explained is just how she came to be adopted, at the age of 33, by a former roommate’s sister. She told the Czech newspaper Lidove Noviny she befriended Ondrej and Jakub Mauer at a scout camp. She already knew their aunt Katerina, she said, because they had worked together at a children’s home in Brno.

Some of the faces of Barbora Skrlova

On June 16, 2008, the trial of the six defendants opened at the City Court in Brno. Some of the testimony only deepened the mysteries of the case. For instance, Mauerova family friend Jirí Hlavácek described how, in the autumn of 2005, Klara asked him to pick up Anna at a remote location. Katerina gave Klara directions over the phone as Hlavácek drove. When they arrived at their destination, a wooded area, they discovered Anna with a bag over her head and her wrists bound.
Klara urged Hlavácek not to call the police, saying this would only put the girl in more danger.

Klara, sobbing continuously throughout the proceedings, admitted to the court that she had willfully tortured her own children. But she had been brainwashed by a 13-year-old girl, her sister, and her own cell phone. Not the strongest defense the judges had ever heard, I’m sure.

Katerina’s testimony didn’t clear the waters, either. Looking frazzled and gaunt, she stated simply, “Whatever my sister Klara said yesterday is a lie.” It was Barbora and Klara, she declared, who got out of control.

Jan Turek would admit only to loaning Klara the two dog cages in which her sons were often confined during their year of torture. He didn’t participate in the abuse himself, he insisted, and wasn’t even aware that the cages were being used for such a purpose.

Hana Basova, the most elusive figure in the case next to Josef Skrla, declined to appear in court at all. She denied any wrongdoing.

With the potent evidence of abuse and the weird, contradictory accounts of the defendants, it’s not shocking that all six were found guilty.
Klara was convicted of repeated abuse with severe cruelty, grievous bodily harm and depriving the boys of their freedom, and was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Katerina received a ten-year sentence for repeated abuse with severe cruelty, grievous bodily harm, depriving the boys of their freedom and giving false testimony.
Barbora was acquitted of fraud charges in relation to her escapades in Norway, but convicted of repeated abuse with severe cruelty. She was sentenced to five years in prison, as was Jan Turek.
Hana Basova and Barbora’s brother Jan received seven years.

Jan Skrla, Barbora’s brother, 2008

Like everyone else, I can only look at the Kurim case and say “WTF?“. But I’m going to venture now into Maybe territory, and propose a possible scenario that could have led Klara (inarguably the most contrite of the abusers) to do the things she did.

In 2005, Klara is presented by her sister with a vulnerable young girl, molested and abused in a Norwegian orphanage to such a degree that she still has some of the traits of an infant. On the other hand, her linguistic abilities show her to be a blazingly intelligent child.
Perhaps she has an air of serenity and innocence about her – a touch of the holy. Katerina and Katerina’s friends are protective of this child, treating her almost like a little idol.

Though they encourage Klara to adopt Anicka into her little family, they begin to disparage her parenting skills. Look how well-behaved Anicka is despite all she has suffered, they point out. And yet your boys are always rough-housing and back-talking and behaving like ruffians.
Being a single parent with insecurities, Klara takes this chiding to heart. She feels she must whip her boys into shape. She devises new, harsher punishments for them, and allows Anicka and her sister to do the same. She accepts the advice of Anicka’s doctor, who obviously cares a great deal for the girl. How many physicians will text-message their patients’ guardian to offer guidance?
This guidance is laden with an aura of the spiritual, even the mystical. Klara senses great holiness in these people surrounding her. They seem to have elevated themselves above the demands of the flesh; they are selfless and serene.
To purify the boys, Klara is told, they must be brought to a state of contrition and submission so that new values can be taught. They must be made to overcome the weaknesses of their flesh so the spirit can be strong.
The Doctor suggests a new regiment of punishment, far harsher than anything Anna and Klara have done. If the boys bicker, talk disrespectfully, or show ingratitude, they will be: Locked in dog cages, deprived of meals, slapped with belts, etc.

Klara, fearing deeply for her boys’ spirits, is grateful for the help. She begins doling out the punishments, and the other adults are kind enough to assist her at every opportunity. With a whole community teaching them, they tell Klara, the boys will know they are loved and cherished even as they suffer. They will come to realize that everyone has made sacrifices for them, and will accept that they must make sacrficies of their own. The ultimate sacrifice, of course, is their own flesh.

When it’s time for Anicka to appear in court to be adopted by Klara, her crippling social phobia incapacitates her. Katerina persuades Klara that it would be best to let another little girl, a friend’s daughter, “stand in” for Anicka so that she doesn’t have to go through the ordeal of appearing before a judge.

By the time Klara realizes that Anicka is older than she is, and that her sister’s friends are lunatics, she’s standing trial for some of the most atrocious child abuse ever seen in the Czech Republic.

This scenario, of course, doesn’t justify a thing. In my opinion, Klara Mauerova and her cohorts got off lightly and should not be permitted within spitting distance of children for the remainder of their messed-up lives.

And speaking of cool UFO events that didn’t actually happen…

October 15th is “Interplanetary Confederation Day”, at least according to the Unarius Academy. The promotional vid below (via Everything is Terrible) shows us some Unarian pageantry *that isn’t weird at all*, and tells us that the space brothers will arrive in 2001. Yay, they’re here! Oh, wait, it’s 2010. Never mind. As you were.

Happy Interplanetary Confederation Day! Celebrate!

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup

  • After my first encounter with “Satanic Nephilim hybrids“, I didn’t think I’d be running into any more fusions of alien abduction lore and Satanic ritual abuse (SRA) narratives. So far as I know, alien abductees rarely recover memories of human abuse under hypnosis (David Icke’s Reptilian/Illuminati survivors would be an exception), and ritual abuse advocates generally don’t stray too far into the paranormal (Michelle Pazder’s Marian visitation would be a notable exception). It’s just not a likely combination, though both phenomena probably involve false memories and/or fantasy-proneness to some extent. So I was hugely disappointed to learn that on the most recent edition of his online radio show, Dreamland, famous alien abductee Whitley Strieber featured a woman named Christine Day who claims not only that she’s in communication with Pleiadians, but that her parents “gave her to a Satanic cult when she was a child.” Day’s contact story is remarkably similar to hundreds of others. She was taken aboard a huge UFO near Mount Shasta (a sacred energy site to New Agers) and felt an overwhelming sense of peace among the Pleiadian aliens. Their vibration filled her with a powerful energy that forced her to undergo a spiritual/psychological transformation. Two months later, Jesus appeared to her and declared, “The Pleiadians are part of the Oneness, and we are part of the Oneness. We are all part of the God-self.” Day claims these memories are consciously recalled. The SRA memories, on the other hand, remained repressed until Day was a grandmother; she accidentally slammed her fingers in her garage door, and spontaneously recalled Satanists breaking her fingers when she was a child. After four years of intense treatment with a therapist who “specializes in this sort of work”, she recalled a life full of Satanic atrocities. (And that’s not all. Sai Baba appeared in Day’s bedroom one night to urge her to go to India.) In a July 9, 1993 interview on Larry King Live, Whitley Strieber said he was working on a novel about ritual abuse, but told guest host Frank Sesno, “Something is happening, people are getting beat up, but it is a psychological thing, basically. I don’t think it’s real.” Now, granted, the Dreamland interview with Christine Day was conducted by guest host Marla Frees. Perhaps Strieber didn’t want to touch the subject himself. Nonetheless, it’s still discouraging to see unverifiable contactee messages being merged with verifiably false SRA information, which can’t possibly do any real favours for either alien abductees or SRA survivors.
  • This is just sad: While searching for the legendary ghost train of Iredell County in Statesville, North Carolina, 29-year-old concierge Christopher Kaiser was struck by an actual train. About a dozen amateur ghost-hunters were on the elevated train trestle called Bostian Bridge in the predawn hours of August 27th, waiting for the phantom #9 out of Salisbury to make an appearance on the 119th anniversary of its crash. That’s when a three-car Norfolk Southern train somehow took them by surprise. Mr. Kaiser reportedly saved his girlfriend’s life by pushing her off the tracks into the ravine 30-40 feet below, just before he was struck head-on. Something tells me that next August 27th, people are going to gather on the trestle to look for the ghost of the guy who saved his girlfriend from an oncoming train. Sigh. Sadder still: This is not the first preventable death to occur on an amateur ghost-hunting trip. Last September, 29-year-old Leah Kubik fell to her death from the roof of the “haunted” Connaught medical research building on the University of Toronto campus after she and a date snuck into the building in search of ghosts. In 2006, 17-year-old Rachel Barezinsky was shot to death by the owner of a “haunted house” in Worthington, Ohio. Allen Davis says he didn’t know that the people who continually lurked on his property were searching for witches and ghosts; he just assumed they were up to no good and loaded his rifle.
  • The blog Three Dead Words, maintained by a Saskatchewan veterinarian who evidently believes her province is crawling with Satanists, is trying to put a Satanic spin on the crimes of Stuart Northcott. He’s the serial killer depicted in The Changeling (you can read my post on him here).