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Once Upon a Time in London, Nassau, New Orleans, & Elsewhere:
Making the World Safe for Satan & Veggie Burgers

5,945 words

Sympathy For The Devil: The True Story of The Process Church of the Final Judgment
Director: Neil Edwards
Appearing: Malachi McCormick, Timothy Wyllie, and other former members, along with George Clinton, Lucien Greaves, John Waters, Genesis P-Orridge, and others.
1 hour, 46 minutes; 2015

“What about the Process?” I said. “Don’t they have a place here? Maybe a delicatessen or something? With a few tables in the back? They have a fantastic menu in London. I ate there once; incredible food.” “Get a grip on yourself,” he said. “You don’t want to even mention the Process in this town.” “You’re right,” I said. “Call Inspector Bloor. He knows about food. I think he has a list.” “Better to call room service,” he said. “We can get the crab looey and a quart of Christian Brothers muscatel for about twenty bucks.” [1]

Like so much else of the late 60s to early 70s “counter-culture,” I first heard of the Process (aka the Process Church, aka the Process Church of the Final Judgement) via Rolling Stone; specifically, Hunter Thompson’s epic two-part tale “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” [2] Thompson’s shuddering allusion to “the Process,” and the apparent danger of talking about their restaurant (of which more anon), was likely based on their supposed connections to the Manson family. [3] Those supposed connections were the subject of a whole chapter in counter-culture hero Ed Sanders’ 1971 book, The Family; The Story of Charles Manson’s Dune Buggy Attack Battalion, although a suit by the church forced the publisher to delete the chapter from later printings. [4]

Even later, David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam himself, claimed that he had been a member of a Yonkers branch of the church and that his killings were under their command. [5]

Later, I came across some references in Burroughs (he, like they, flirted with Scientology in London). At this point, Bowie would be expected to follow up, but I don’t recall him ever mentioning them, although the infamous “fascist” period, with uniform and salute, might speak of some influence.

Instead, much later one heard of their influence on Genesis P-Orridge, Throbbing Gristle, and Psychic TV. But it wasn’t until nearly the Millennium that I found some of the original materials, reprinted in Simon Dwyer’s Rapid Eye. [6]

Alas, however impressed I might have been in 1973, by this time they seemed like the home-made theology of some art student, or the sort of “edgy” fascist chic thing Fred Berger might have cobbled together to surround photos of languid runaways with in Propaganda. Still, cool graphic design.

But now, thanks to a Facebook post from Robert N. Taylor of legendary neofolk band Changes, [7] I was alerted to this 2015 doco, with contributions from leading former members of the cult, and insights from filmmaker John Waters (who encountered the cult whilst living in New Orleans), George Clinton (who included Process writings on his Funkadelic albums), plus artiste Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, and authors Gary Lachman, Robert Irwin, Gaia Servadio (who infiltrated the group in 1966), and Manson biographer Simon Wells; and also featuring the music of Funkadelic and electronic sounds by Nicholas Bullen.

Here’s the point where I would wimp out and paste in a plot summary from IMDB. [8] However, no such page exists, other than a bald statement of the history of infamy such as I’ve just outlined. No reviews, either. What a . . . coincidence.

Instead, I’ll use a blurb from the LA Weekly that appears on the cover of ex-Process minister Timothy “Father Micah” Wyllie’s cult memoir: [9]

It is an unglamorous saga of indentured panhandling, Dumpster-diving, child neglect, public-access proselytizing, and Heathers-level Machiavellianism — detailing the insidious banality of evil more convincingly than Process theology or Maury Terry ever could.

Another, more recent view:

Founded by ex-Scientologists turned Satanists, the [Process Church] and its members awaited the end of the world but when it didn’t come, the group decided to rescue animals instead.

It’s perhaps best to start off by looking at how Edward Mason (Brother Luke) dismisses the connection with Charlie: “We’d never have anything to do with a dirty little pimp.” Interesting in two ways: first, like its bastard father, Scientology, the vector from the start had been to target middle-class, “well” educated youth, with no aim in life but with access to substantial amounts of money, or even better, “celebrities” who could bring in more money but also good PR; second, the real founder and power behind the Messiah was not a pimp, but a whore.

Officially, The Process was created in London by Robert de Grimston, a recent Oxford graduate, and his wife, Mary Ann Maclean, whose origins were a bit mysterious but were eventually revealed, as they are in the doco’s last minutes, as a Scottish whore who had come down to London to work as a dominatrix for some Levantine pimps. It’s a not uncommon feature of esoteric traditions, [10] and also likely the key to some of the group’s more idiosyncratic features.

For example, Fr. Micah notes that while humans have evolved a complex set of non-verbal cues to signal “I’m friendly” or “I’m not a threat,” Processians would stare directly at you until you became unnerved and bought a magazine (more on those in a bit). Another relates how rather than proselytizing, their whole presentation — the robes, swastika-like Process cross, Black Masse — was designed to put people off; if you got through that, you might be accepted. In both cases, one can detect what the man-o-sphere would nowadays call “shit testing.” [11]

Robert, however, would be the literal “face” of the Process; with his newly-fashionable long hair and Guy Fawkes Van Dyke, the press, when they began to notice the group, dubbed him “The Christ of Carnaby Street.” [12]

Robert and Mary Ann were former Scientologists, and they initially used a knock-off of the “E-meter” cleverly renamed the “P-Scope.” [13] Eventually, they employed a simpler (and less liable to intellectual property suits) method of using a “psychic” auditor who would ask the subject a question, pause, and then provide the answer himself. As Fr. Micah admits, “It sounds quite bonkers.” [14]

This foray into the psychic realm seems to have led to a practice of group meditation, with the usual result of shared visions and synchronicities, ultimately leading them to (literally) relocate to the Bahamas in search of an island to purchase, like the contemporaneous Dr. No.

Alas, no such island was available, even for their indubitably considerable bankroll, so like many a previous group of seekers, they continued ever West by boat and bus until they wound up in Xtul, a part of the Yucatan peninsula so remote it was actually out of the control of the Mexican government. Group meditation, including visionary experiences and contact with “other beings” continued until, after diverting Hurricane Inez via group visualization (“A major validation,” says Fr. Micah, “[it] consolidated our belief”) they decided to formalize a theology and return in ragged triumph (having been living in an abandoned factory and living on giant fish that would occasionally wash up on the beach — “You have doubt? Check it out!” announced Mary Ann when this first aquatic miracle happened) to London, announcing the gospel of the imminent End of the World.

While they may have diverted the hurricane, the experience was one of abject terror. The combination of terror, with the sign of divine favor, created a self-image of being divinely chosen to deliver a new millennial gospel of fear.

Christ said: Love your enemies. Christ’s enemy was Satan and Satan’s enemy was Christ. Through love, enmity is destroyed. Through love, saint and sinner destroy the enmity between them. Through love, Christ and Satan have destroyed their enmity and come together for the end: Christ to judge, Satan to execute the judgment. The judgment is wisdom; the execution of the judgment is love.

This theology mainly involved a pantheon of four opposed yet reconciled gods, Christ, Yahweh, Satan, and Lucifer, with one of which the devotee would be especially identified with. [15]

Are you JEHOVAH’s man, taking the stringent road of purity and rejoicing in the harsh strength of self-denial?

Do you follow LUCIFER, pursuing the ideal of perfect human love in a blissful atmosphere of sweet self-indulgence?

Is SATAN your master, leading you into dark paths of lust and licentiousness and all the intricate pleasures of the flesh?

Or do you take the road to nowhere, half in half out, half up half down, your instincts and ideals buried in a deep morasse of hypocritical compromise and respectable mediocrity?

Three paths and a quagmire. And time is running out. [16]

Hearing members talk about this, it seems to amount to little more than something like Jung’s psychological types or even the medieval “humors.” The idea that Christ taught “love your enemy” is developed into less of a sinister Cainite Gnosticism than simply Jung’s idea of recognizing and appropriating the Shadow, which anyone could find out just by reading Demian.

Or perhaps they might have been on the trail of Jason Jorjani’s notion of gods as spectral presences that can enter and overtake one’s consciousness, including the more or less hidden Satanism (aka “Prometheanism”) of Jorjani’s project.

Anyway, none of this would have resulted in their continuing place in our cultural memory without this key factor: most of the devotees were art and architecture students, who therefore had a keen eye for aesthetics and design.

You can buy James O’Meara’s book Green Nazis in Space! here.

Thus was born the inimitable, but much imitated, Process “look”: the black robes and cowls; the coffee house, named Satan’s Cavern, where events ranging from movies, music, and art to black masses were staged; [17] their magazine — each issue devoted to themes such as Death, Fear, Love or Sex, filled with progressive design sense and propaganda from de Grimston and others, and content ranging from Malcolm Muggeridge to Charles Manson, which devotees spent most of their time hawking on the streets; [18] and above all, the Process cross: originally four Ps arranged in a rotating fashion, later more stylized, and in both cases, as Fr. Micah says, looking “not at all” like a swastika.

As the interviewees make clear, although this was taking place in swinging, 60s London (remember, “the Christ of Carnaby St.”), the design sense and atmos’ was as far from “psychedelic” or hippie vibes as could be imagined. [19] One might compare it to the contemporaneous contrast between the dark, violent New York or Detroit music scenes, the Velvet Underground or the Stooges, and the starry-eyed Summer of Love; [20] for that reason alone, the connection to Manson seems almost inevitable.

Anyway, all this frippery made the Process all too visible, and to avoid the Establishment’s hammer (as would later happen to Genesis P-Orridge’s Temple of Psychick Youth) it was decided to incorporate as a religion. [21] Apparently, you need to be around for at least ten years to qualify as such in the UK, but in America — where there’s a seeker born every minute — you can qualify overnight. So, it was back to North America, this time in more civilized outposts such as New York, Boston, New Orleans, etc., as the newly baptized “Process Church of the Final Judgement.” [22]

The usual ups and downs ensue, until Robert and Mary Ann finally split up after the expected affairs. Most of the disciples opt to stay with the latter; as Fr. Micah says, “It was more of a divorce than a schism.” After a few attempts at starting his own groups, de Grimston finally decided to get a day job “as a telecom executive”; Mary Ann’s group went through several more changes of name and theology, becoming increasingly bland and generic, until ending up, as such people so often do, running an animal shelter in New Mexico.

The doco tells the story through interviews with surviving members (apparently from Robert’s group) and occasional outsiders like George Clinton, who all but joined, and John Waters, who maintains a stance of ironic amusement at it all. Panels from a two-page cartoon spread, “What is the Process?” which appeared in the SEX issue, are cleverly animated and dubbed to provide interstitials, giving the proceedings a bit of a Monty Python air; Fr. Micah, in turn, sounds like he’s been dubbed by the Hugh Laurie of Blackadder fame.

It’s interesting to see and hear these people in the flesh, but for all they have to say about their “process” and everything else I’ve looked over again, I’m reminded of what Groucho says in Duck Soup: “He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.” Perhaps in the end, the Process should be remembered as a BritCom rather than anything more sinister, with John Waters’ ironic detachment and appreciation.

And yet. . .

The doco spends some time near the end dealing with all the Manson, Son of Sam, and Satanic Panic connections, dismissing them as journalistic exploitation and mass hysteria. But I decided to check out what everyone’s favorite internet conspiracy maven, Miles Mathis, had to say.

As it turns out, his take on the Manson murders (he thinks they’re fake, of course) contains this interesting tidbit:

Satanic activity. . . is a common ploy used by the CIA and FBI to lead investigators into dark alleys. . . . Rule number one in researching false flag events: ignore all links that lead to Satanism. Those are sucker links, put there on purpose by the CIA writers. [23]

As one example, let us dispense with the “Satanic” Process Church without further ado. The only thing you need to know about the Process Church is that in 1966 the leaders of the cult, the DeGrimstons, secured a large property on the Yucatan peninsula. Guess where? Mérida. In 1970, that wasn’t the red flag it now is. It is now known that Mérida is the CIA’s home away from home, sort of a Mexican Langley. Newer books on Manson or the Process Church now scrub that reference, telling you the hangout of the DeGrimstons was the scarier sounding town of Xtul. But Xtul wasn’t and isn’t a town. It is just a makeshift CIA ranch on the outskirts of Mérida. [24]

The spook connection actually makes more sense — i.e., is more like normal reality — than the spaced-out story that the doco takes at face value: they lived on big fish washed up from time to time. To believe the doco, it’s a blasted wasteland where the group lived in an abandoned salt factory. But in the real world, it does sound more like the Mexican Langley:

The new hot spot for real estate & investment in Mexico is the Merida area simply because it’s very different. Our area has so many positive factors that are making it an easy investment decision for our clients and many others who are investing here. Constant positive news articles, blogs, and social media posts are making this area noticed all over the world. Did you know Merida was also just awarded best small city in the world by Conde Nast Traveler? Check it out here. Real estate prices and cost of living are much lower here in Yucatan state, meaning more bang for your dollar! You are not just buying a tiny box to retire or vacation in! [Or an abandoned salt factory for your commune] Our properties are large and a comfortable space you will be much happier in long term. Your dollar goes much further here. Personally, we find the best experiences you’ll have in Mexico are far away from the touristy destinations. Did you know Merida was just awarded best area for overall quality of life in Mexico? Mérida was also ranked the safest city in Latin America.

Just the place to invest your cult members’ money! And I bet I can guess why it’s “the safest city in Latin America.” This also accounts for a curious detail that is mentioned without comment: the dogs — Alsatians or German Shepherds — were numerous, large and well-fed; a detail that takes on further significance given both the cult’s ultimate transformation as an “animal rescue” charity, and the sort of “rumors” that account for Dr. Gonzo’s hesitancy to mention The Process having a restaurant in Las Vegas.

And that business about Xtul being “so remote as to be out from under the government of Mexico” — really? Sounds more like a Gitmo kind of set-up. And despite such remoteness, it’s easily accessible to the staff of the British consulate, who get interviewed as well to “confirm” the story.

Back to Miles:

The Process Church came out of Mayfair, London, so we may assume it is MI6. The MI6 has been using the Crowley/Satanism cover since the 1890s. [25] The fake DeGrimstons are just actors from the theatrical division of MI6. Whenever the secret services need to create cover, they send in people like this. [26] They work all over the world, and one secret service is happy to borrow actors/agents from another secret service.

Well, we know that Mary Ann was an actress — a professional dominatrix. And consider the way de Grimston — the founder, remember, the “Christ of Carnaby St.” — simply disappears from view, with some vague story of “became a telecom executive.” [27] Perhaps after dropping the old identity he moved on to a new assignment, maybe indeed in telecommunications; the internet, perhaps? At least there’s this on Facebook, which must be authentic, because Zuckerberg wouldn’t, um. . .

On the other hand, Miles can’t really tie them to Manson anyway; all we get it is “Manson then lived [in San Francisco] on Cole Street, on the same block as the Process Church,” reminiscent of Jim Garrison’s obsession with Lee Harvey Oswald and Guy Bannister having offices in the same building. But that reminds me of another odd detail: why was the Process Church setting up offices in New Orleans, of all places, which was, according to Garrison, a staging ground for CIA activity in Central America? [28]

As David Ferrie would say, who the fuck knows? [29]

Usually, when spook involvement in the “counter-culture” is uncovered, it’s seen as part of the FBI’s COINTELPRO or the CIA’s even more sinister Operation CHAOS. If present here, I think it may be part of something more long-range, in both time and space.

For all their avant-garde atmos’ and hipster cred, the Process trafficked in the lowest common denominator of Judeo-Christianity, the obsession with the End Times. Whether First Century Palestine or 20th Century Mayfair, the results are the same: there’s no time to waste on politics, employment, or raising a family. [30] Turn away from all of that; everything is going to burn!

Stop celebrating “pagan” holidays, like Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas; stay away from other people, even family members; take your children out of school, leave your family, quit your job, sell everything, give it all to us, and we’ll all shelter in place till the end, when we will be reborn anew. [31]

Sounds depressingly contemporary; literally “ripped from the headlines.” Could Manson, the Process, and other apocalyptic cults have been experiments to gather data on the best ways to fuck up Western societies, using the tried and true primitive Christianity template? [32]

Similarly, one wonders how much the Rajneesh cult was responsible for turning what once was just “a bunch of buildings built along a polluted river with random bridges criss-crossing it” into the world headquarters of violent misfits and spiteful mutants.

“Watchable and debatable,” as critic Joe Bendel says, Sympathy for the Devil — released, appropriately enough, for 2016 Philip K. Dick Film Festival in New York — is an excellent choice for your streaming during pandemic needs.

It may even give you some new ideas for lockdown activities: Hey kids, let’s start a cult!

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Notes

[1] Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (New York: Random House, 1972)

[2] “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. Part I” in Rolling Stone 95 (November 11, 1973), pp. 37-48; “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. Part II” in Rolling Stone 96 (November 25, 1973), pp. 38-50; both published under the pseudonym “Raoul Duke,” who continues to this day to be listed on the masthead as “Sports Editor.”

[3] Like everyone at the time, especially in California, Thompson was freaked by Manson, who casts a dark shadow across the book, which is largely a prescient lament for the “youth culture” that never really got off the ground. Earlier, Thompson muses about a hitchhiker they’ve picked up: “This same lonely desert was the last known home of the Manson family. Will he make that grim connection when my attorney starts screaming about bats and huge manta rays coming down on the car? If so — well, we’ll just have to cut his head off and bury him somewhere.” Later, as he checks into his hotel, “If Charlie Manson checked into the Sahara tomorrow morning, nobody would hassle him as long as he tipped big. . . You got the impression that somebody was going to be gunned down in a blazing crossfire at any moment — maybe the entire Manson Family.” Later they prank a Georgia lawman:

“But now, Jesus, nobody’s safe. They could turn up anywhere.” “You’re right,” said my attorney. “We learned that in California. You remember where Manson turned up, don’t you? Right out in the middle of Death Valley. He had a whole army of sex fiends out there. We only got our hands on a few. Most of the crew got away; just ran off across the sand dimes, like big lizards. . . and every one of them stark naked, except for the weapons. They’ll turn up everywhere, pretty soon.”

The two themes are eventually brought together, though the Process is not mentioned:

First “gurus.” Then, when that didn’t work, back to Jesus. And now, following Manson’s primitive/instinct lead, a whole new wave of clan-type commune Gods like Mel Lyman, Avatar, and What’s His Name who runs “Spirit and Flesh.” Barger never quite got the hang of it, but he’ll never know how close he was to a king-hell breakthrough. The Angels blew it in 1965, at the Oakland-Berkeley line, when they acted on Barger’s hardhat, con-boss instincts and attacked the front ranks of an anti-war march. This proved to be an historic schism in the then Rising Tide of the Youth Movement of the Sixties. It was the first open break between the Greasers and the Longhairs, and the importance of that break can be read in the history of SDS, which eventually destroyed in the doomed effort to reconcile the interests of the “working class” biker/dropout types and the upper/mid Berkeley/student activists.”

[4] The church then sued in England where, amazingly, despite famously tough libel laws, they lost, likely due to the bad impression they made on the court. Da Capo produced an “updated and expanded” edition in 2002, but only one sentence mentions “the Process church of England.”

[5] According to charlesmanson.com:

In 1997, reporter Maury Terry interviewed serial killer David Berkowitz, known as the Son of Sam and the .44 Caliber Killer, for Investigative Reports “Son of Sam Speaks: The Untold Story” with Bill Kurtis. In that videotaped interview, Berkowitz specifically mentioned and blamed The Process Church of the Final Judgment for his killings. Berkowitz stated that he would meet with the cult at Untermyer Park in Yonkers and that other members of the Process were involved in the Son of Sam killings and that he took the fall to cover for the Cult.

[6] Rapid Eye 3, edited by Simon Dwyer includes “Game of the Gods, An Introduction To The Process” by Stephen Sennitt. You should really read all three volumes, or at least the anthology; Dwyer was a sort of British version of Adam Parfrey.

[7] See “The Process: a Personal Reminiscence” in Adam Parfrey (ed.) Apocalypse Culture (revised and expanded ed. Los Angeles: Feral House, 1990), pp. 159–71.

[8] Not that I receive a dime from them.

[9] Timothy Wyllie, Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgement (Port Townsend, Washington: Feral House, 2009).

[10] Take, for example, the Gnostic Christian Simon Magus, who is rebuked by Peter in Acts, and is suspected to be either the real-life version of the fictional apostle Paul or even Jesus himself:

Various heresiologists tell us that Simon was like Travis Bickle in the movie Taxi Driver and had rescued a woman from a brothel and subsequently traveled with her. Named Helen, she was his eternal soul mate, having existed in the divine pleroma, the heavenly world of light and spirit, as the Ennoia or Epinoia, the First Thought. This was pretty much the same idea as the personified Lady Wisdom in Proverbs 8, Sirach 1, and Wisdom of Solomon 7, or the Logos of Philo, but female. As such, she and the Great Power formed a syzygy, or a yoked pair, reminiscent of the coupling of Shiva and his shakti, Kali, in Tantric mysticism. She had been lost in the swamp of the world of matter, the sinister creation of the pernicious archons, or rulers, since the beginning, and it was only her spiritual wisdom which, like Spock’s kidnapped brain in the subterranean world of miniskirted Amazons on Star Trek, kept the world running. It was to rescue her that the Great Power had condescended to enter the dark world of matter. This salvation myth, quite typical of Gnosticism in general, implied that those who followed Simon and learned his secret knowledge (gnosis) would be saved after death. You see, his girlfriend’s soul was the incarnation of the divine Light of Wisdom that had been shattered into a million sparks and scattered throughout the material world. One supposes that the ex-harlot Helen embodied the greatest single concentration of this wisdom. But many others possessed smaller shares of that light. And such a one would snap out of one’s amnesia if one had ears to hear Simon’s gnosis. The whole Gnostic schema, including the Simonian heresy, was strikingly parallel to the Kabbalah of Isaac Luria in sixteenth-century Galilee. The pious Gnostics perceived in themselves a latent spark of divine glory and sought to liberate it from reincarnation by means of meditative exercises and asceticism, including the denial of fleshly pleasures. A few took the left-handed path and sought libertine antinomianism in keeping with Aleister Crowley’s philosophy: “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” If the flesh was unimportant, then you could go either way and still find enlightenment. The crucial thing was to attain mental and spiritual independence from worldly laws and religion since they were the creations of evil archons, the unseen rulers of the world, one of whom was the Jehovah (Yahweh) of the Old Testament.

Robert Price, The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2012). Neville Goddard would point out that she’s a harlot because, like our divine Imagination, she is subject to the bidding of all.

[11] Or, alternatively, one might reference Spengler’s discussion of the predatory gaze in his Man and Technics: A Contribution to a Philosophy of Life (1931), trans. Charles Francis Atkinson (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1932).

[12] John Waters — yes, that John Waters, who encountered them in New Orleans — calls him their “poster boy.”

[13] Scientologists refer to such renegades as “squirrels.” The very term “processing” itself came from the Scientology method of processing members via the E-meter until they became, like Tom Cruise, “clears.”

[14] Again, replacing Hubbard’s crank tech with shit-testing.

[15] Fr. Micah demands to be heard: “We weren’t necessarily integrating opposing viewpoints, we were presenting opposing viewpoints, and letting the intelligent reader integrate them, see what I mean? Very different. It’s treating people like adults. It’s saying, ‘here is the evidence, make your choices.’ I don’t have to tell you which is best.” See: “Process Church Art Director Timothy Wyllie in Conversation with Adam Parfrey at Feral Acres, Washington” in Propaganda and the Holy Writ of the Process Church of the Final Judgment: Including “The Gods on War” Text and Read by Timothy Wyllie, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Lydia Lynch, and Adam Parfrey. Malachi McCormick (Editor); Adam Parfrey (Introduction); Timothy Wyllie (Introduction) (Port Townsend, Washington: Feral House, 2011).

[16] Process magazine, SEX issue, reprinted in Propaganda and the Holy Writ of the Process Church, op. cit.

[17] An undoubted source for the events later staged weekly at New York City’s club Jackie 60; see my “Fashion Tips for the Far-from-Fabulous Right,” reprinted in The Homo & the Negro: Masculinist Meditations on Politics & Popular Culture; Second, Embiggened Edition; ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2017). Even so, the bar was literally set low in 60s London: “I never knew you could serve orange squash hot” marvels one former member.

[18] For a full reprint, see Propaganda and the Holy Writ of the Process Church, op. cit.

[19] As this guy says:

In 1966-67, most of the advertised progress in rock’n’roll music, the way it was evolving into a “respectable” art form, generally took place somewhere in between “Good Vibrations” and “All You Need Is Love” — in other words, seriousness in this line of work was largely associated with canonical beauty, for a multitude of reasons: music as a unifying force for people, music as a search for The Lost Chord, and, not least of all, music as a viable commercial force. (Who’d want to send “ugly” music to the top of the charts, anyway?). Even rough-cut garage bands still celebrated generic beauty in their own rough-cut ways: The Troggs may have behaved and recorded like cavemen, but even cavemen have their own beauty standards. And even Hendrix, with his love for sounds that must have scared the crap out of the Sinatra generation, would still be taking you away to nice heavenly places like Electric Ladyland.

[20] One interviewee recalls a fellow member who was supposedly devoted to Satan, but the only satanic thing he could recall him doing was, when DJing at the coffee house, reacting to yet another request for the Velvet Underground with “Oh, fuck the Velvet Underground!”

[21] People on the Dissident Right might feel some resonance with Genesis P-Orridge’s remark on the way the Process became the go-to villain for Bill O’Reilly and other establishment media: “Once people in the Establishment decide to attack you, it’s incredibly difficult to defend yourself.”

[22] According to Fr. Micah (Timothy Wyllie), the attorney in New Orleans who drew up the Church’s incorporation papers in Louisiana, and even dreamt up the new name, was Tommy Baumler. (Love Sex Fear Death, p. 74). He gives an engaging description of the flamboyant attorney: “enormously fat. . . gruff, cynical, rude, and extremely funny.” He does not mention that Baumler was also a Bishop of the American Orthodox Catholic Church, and, at the time, was being investigated by Jim Garrison for his role in the JFK assassination (he worked in Guy Bannister’s offices). I think this is supposed to be him. The reader will soon find this to be a recurring theme.

[23]

While I’ve always found certain elements of the Saunders/Terry account to be highly dubious (most notably their portrayal of Robert de Grimston as a Manson/Jim Jones-like cult leader with total control over his followers, but more on that later) I left Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment, an anthology largely comprised of accounts by former Process members such as Timothy Wyllie, all but convinced the Process was little more than a red herring.

The Process: A Strange and Terrible Journey, Part I

[24] “That Merida was an operational center for efforts to overthrow Castro is confirmed in recently declassified CIA documents, of which we read in Una base de la CIA funcionó en Mérida en 1962, that President Adolfo Lopez Mateos had approved CIA operations in Mérida from 1962 to 1965. It may be that the base needed to go ‘unofficial’ after this period, and the Process Church was just the vehicle for doing so.” Plumbing the Archives, Nov. 9, 2014.

[25] See my review of Richard B. Spence (not Spencer!), Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult (Port Townsend, Washington: Feral House, 2008), here and reprinted in Mysticism After Modernism: Crowley, Evola, Neville, Watts, Colin Wilson & Other Populist Gurus (Melbourne, Australia: Manticore Press, 2020).

[26] “I should add that my family was not drawn from the upper classes. I got into Charterhouse, my public school, through a stroke of luck and my mother’s connections in British intelligence from working for MI6 before the war.” (Love Sex Fear Death, “My Life Inside the Process Church,” Timothy Wyllie, p. 25.)

[27] Adam Parfrey claimed to have found him in the Staten Island phone book — as Robert Moor — and had a pleasant chat, so there’s that too; see Love Sex Fear Death, p. 9.

[28] For that brush with madness, see this.

[29]

The final chapter of Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of The Process Church of The Final Judgement (Feral House, 2009) — “THE SCHISM” — consists of a letter sent in July 1974 by Process co-founder Robert de Grimston to “All Processeans everywhere,” particularly to those who remained followers of his former partner, Mary Ann MacLean. The minutiae of cult politics is of little concern to us here. What has caught our attention however is the mailing address with which de Grimston signs off the missive: 3301 Louisiana Ave. Pkwy., New Orleans, LA. JFK assassination researchers, particularly those who have focused on the goings-on in New Orleans in the early to mid-1960s, will note this address, for it sits between that of David Ferrie’s apartment and that of the underground laboratory (or the “mouse house”) where Ferrie kept up to 2000 caged mice. . . 3330 and 3225 Louisiana Ave. Pkwy. Respectively.”

Plumbing the Archives, ibid.

[30] One matter the doco brushes past is the fate of the children raised among the cultists. Jan Palombo says that “They treated the dogs very well. They did not treat the children well.” Consider this story:

Its leaders, harboring little hope that humans could mend their ways, said the only way forward was to withdraw from society and seek spiritual enlightenment while waiting for the world to burn. . . . When children were born, parents weren’t allowed to raise them, as families were seen as obsolete. Sect leaders believed breaking families up was the ethical thing to do. Garrett said he followed their teaching, which he now regrets. “These kids were subject to people who said, ‘You’re not my kid and I really don’t care about you that much,’” he said. “That was unfortunate.”

[31] Robert Price, New Testament scholar and Lovecraft expert, pointed out in a recent podcast that the Jerusalem Elders grant Paul the right to preach to the gentiles in return for his conducting a fundraising drive among them; the reason for this is that having established the first Christian commune, “sharing all alike,” they, like all socialist experiments, had promptly gone broke.

[32] Ask Timothy Leary:

Do you think CIA people were involved in your group in the sixties?” I asked. Without hesitating, Leary said, “Of course they were. I would say that eighty percent of my movements, eighty percent of the decisions I made were suggested to me by CIA people. . . I like the CIA! The game they’re playing is better than the FBI. Better than the Saigon police. Better than Franco’s police. Better than the Israeli police. They’re a thousand times better than the KGB. So it comes down to: who are you going to work for? The Yankees or the Dodgers?

Compare David Ferrie: “Everybody keeps flipping sides. It’s fun and games.”

 

11 Comments

  1. Posted December 4, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Now that’s an odd bunch.

  2. Paul
    Posted December 4, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I was waiting to see Peter Levenda mentioned here.

    The occult tendrils leading to and from the Manson case would seem to make it the central event in 20th century America. Maybe even in 21st century America, as parapolitics enters the mainstream and Trump comes to be seen by some as a salvific messiah who will use martial law to free us from our archons.

    The Jonestown fiasco is also a useful gateway to understanding open air CIA mindfuck farms, one of which is now encompassing the North American landmass. From small things big things one day come.

    As such, it can be said of our current savior (to paraphrase the Principia Discordia): some say he is a holy man, others say he is a shithead.

  3. Right_On
    Posted December 4, 2020 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the tip about the “Sympathy For The Devil” documentary. Will definitely check it out.

    Re “The [Process Church] and its members awaited the end of the world but when it didn’t come, the group decided to rescue animals instead” : So they followed the same script as the unconvicted Manson Family members after Charlie was jailed. [See Sandra Good’s ATWA (Air Trees Water Animals) activist group.] You see, Charlie was always just a lover of animals and nature. One of Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme’s fave songs was America’s “A Horse With No Name”. It’s no surprise a former denizen of Death Valley would like that one.

    Timothy Leary was intrigued by The Process Church and accepted an invite to one of their HQs, but decided they were a bit too creepy for his tastes and took his leave. As I recall from the Feral House book, The Church was not keen on drugs so Leary would have been a strange bedfellow. Instead The Church used prolonged, serious self-flagellation as a way to induce ecstatic states.

    • Fionn McCool
      Posted December 6, 2020 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      “ou see, Charlie was always just a lover of animals and nature.”

      Correct.

    • James O'Meara
      Posted December 6, 2020 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      Ah yes, the doco ever so briefly alludes to that, otherwise one might think they just sat around meditating. There’s a brief B&W clip but it’s hard to tell if it’s one of the Process events or one of Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable ones, where Gerard Malanga used to dance around with a whip.

      • Gerald James McManus
        Posted December 7, 2020 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        James, here on the west Florida coast in the Clearwater area there Scientologists aplenty. Their core belief is that the Supreme Being is an alien from another solar system. Have you seen the first draft of my new novel LONE WOLF CONFEDERACY? It was sent to Greg 2 months ago. Thanks.

        • James O'Meara
          Posted December 9, 2020 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

          Diving into it even now! Hope you saw my review of your Dark Millenium.

          • Gerald James McManus
            Posted December 10, 2020 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

            Hi James O’Meara:
            I like your name it reminds me of the Irish neighborhood where I grew up in Boston. I read your review. The main character was indeed a sociopath. But I am only about half way there. Your analysis of the reasoning behind Alexander McGrail’s name was right on target. LONE WOLF CONFEDERACY may be a book whose time has come unless SCOTUS shocks the country and throws the election into the House. In which case Trump will win. The GOP controls 26 of the 50 votes called for there because almost all of the small population states vote Republican. The Monmouth chapter is particularly relevant now. Look forward to your thoughts on the book. Do you know of Ireland’s Michael Collins?
            Gerald James McManus.

            • Gerald James McManus
              Posted December 11, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

              PS) Greg has my email info.
              Gerald.

  4. datedaprocessvictim
    Posted December 7, 2020 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    “[30] One matter the doco brushes past is the fate of the children raised among the cultists. Jan Palombo says that “They treated the dogs very well. They did not treat the children well.” Consider this story:

    Its leaders, harboring little hope that humans could mend their ways, said the only way forward was to withdraw from society and seek spiritual enlightenment while waiting for the world to burn. . . . When children were born, parents weren’t allowed to raise them, as families were seen as obsolete. Sect leaders believed breaking families up was the ethical thing to do. Garrett said he followed their teaching, which he now regrets. “These kids were subject to people who said, ‘You’re not my kid and I really don’t care about you that much,’” he said. “That was unfortunate.””

    I’ve been a long time Counter Currents reader but have never commented. In the early and mid 90s I dated a woman whose parents had been Process members, and I met them. Her father (now deceased) was English and her mother was American and some kind of “activist” who somehow was able to pal around with Moammar Quaddafi and Fidel Castro. My girlfriend very matter-of-factly told me that she thought her mother was a spy. In the Process Church, my girlfriend had experienced exactly what is described in the quote above, and also ritual sexual abuse. Her mother later became part of the animal sanctuary. Needless to say my girlfriend was very messed up by it all, but seems to have come out of it as “ok” as one could hope (we are still friends). The spook community connection makes sense.

  5. Jez Turner
    Posted December 21, 2020 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    Am sitting in a lockdown-illegal London coffee bar, reading this article during a lull in the conversation and lo-and-behold it turns out that one of the people chatting with me used to attend The Process coffee bar off Park Lane. He doesn’t remember anything to do with ‘Satanism’ or anything particularly ‘right-wing’ (other than an absence of Marxist nonsense), but he does remember pretty girls, discussions about epistemology and rather good quality coffee. He’s still got some of the organisation’s magazines, which I dare say would sell for a pretty penny today.

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