Leo Martello wrote about Anton LaVey (and Herbert Sloane of the Ophitic Cultus Satanhas, whom I hope to talk about soon) and distinguished Witchcraft from Satanism while recognizing Satanism as a valid and meaningful spiritual path. He also reminds us of one reason why there were a disproportionate number of gay men in the Church of Satan. From the beginning the Church of Satan has welcomed gay and lesbian members. Martello was one of the first "out" gay Witches: during the early days of American and British Witchcraft, most covens were all about "polarity" and shunned homosexuals as deviants who had no place in a fertility religion. (American Pagans are almost universally queer-tolerant today, you protest? You can thank Leo Martello for that).
|Lige Clarke on cover of Gay #1|
from Gay & Lesbian Review
Intrigued by his interview with a Kentucky folk witch named "Elijah Hadynn" I did a bit of Googling and discovered that Elijah Hadynn Clarke was better known as Lige Clarke, one of the editors of Gay, America's first weekly gay and lesbian newspaper. (And a paper which featured Dr. Martello's column, "The Gay Witch"). So far as I can tell from some cursory searching, this interview has never been recognized as part of Lige Clarke's considerable and impressive body of work. It is an important piece of gay and Pagan history, a meeting of two of the major figures of pre-Stonewall gay America.
* * * * *
I was warmly greeted by Elijah Hadynn, at his apartment on East 10th Street, in New York's East Village, when I visited him on the rainy night of April 18, 1969. The interview was arranged by John R. Nichols, editor of STRANGE / UNKNOWN MAGAZINE, and a writer on witchcraft himself. He had previously interviewed and written about Mr. Hadynn. I was ushered into a living room which had cushions and pillows arranged alongside the four walls, on the floor, "Moroccan style, like my villa in Tangier" I told him. Some of his own paintings hung on the walls. "I don't believe in lots of furniture" he said. We sat on the floor cushions. I told him "I had planned to bring you a broom." Laughingly he
replied "I could have used one."
Elijah Hadynn is a quiet, introspective young man, who looks more like a college student than a warlock (male witch). A glance at his handwriting told me that he was organized, systematic, ruled by his head rather than his heart, creative and constructive, and had the capacity to remain impersonal and detached from most situations; a far cry from the emotional hysteria characteristic of Middle Age witches. Backhand, precise, with clear well-executed letter formations, Mr. Hadynn was in full possession of his faculties, knew what he was and what he was doing at all times; the type of person who prefers to observe rather than participate.
"I usually prefer to be alone" he said. "Parties as a rule bore me." This was confirmed by his handwriting which revealed that he would be more interested in ideas rather than just people per se, unless they were intellectually stimulating. Far from being an impulsive, impressionable, easily swayed person his handwriting indicated self-possession, control and discipline .... he would be master of his witchcraft rather than having it master him ... he would use it positively rather than being used by it negatively ... and unlike so many who become involved with the occult because of emotional impulses and drives, his mind would always be the controlling and decisive factor in any undertaking.
LLM: How did you first become aware that you were a witch?
EH: I always knew that I was different. I can remember the moment that I was born. It was on Cave Branch, in a little wooden house. I can vividly remember my first breath of air. I used to sleep with my hands outstretched with my thumb in between my two fingers. Years later I read that that was supposedly a sign of the witch. I often went on astral journeys. I'm ambidextrous, though I lean towards lefthandedness. I've had thirty six moles removed from my body ... another sign of the witch. My mother was born the day before Christmas. My great grandfather was a Cherokee medicine man. There were two gypsies present at my birth, and one of them had said earlier 'A great man will be born in that house.'"
Elijah Hadynn was born in the hills of south-eastern Kentucky. Here is a fragment of a poem written about his birth:
In old Kentucky's snow white hills,
Where tales of superstition grow,
A warlock was born this day,
Whose destiny the gypsies know.
His hair was white, it matched the snow
That fell from cold and darkening skies.
And as he grew, the magic gleam
Flashed deep within his soulful eyes.
LLM: Do you belong to a coven in New York?
EH: No. I'm basically a loner. If I do join one I intend to make absolutely sure that it's genuine.
LM: How many-other witches do you personally know here?
EH: I personally know only two others. One is a burlesque queen. The other a male witch. Of course I know of many many others.
LLM: What do you consider the best book on Witchcraft for the budding witch?
EH: One of the best is the Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology by Rossell Hope Robbins. It's full of facts and fascinating pictures of witches, especially during the time of the Dark Ages.
LLM: Do you know Sybil Leek?
EH: Yes. When we first met she was intrigued by my name, repeating it several times, saying "How lovely are the old names." She's a marvelous woman with a great sense of humor.
LLM: Do you believe in Reincarnation?
EH: Yes I do. I know that I have lived in the past and will exist again in another form in the future. This is what the Old Religion teaches. It's not something that I simply believe but something that I have always known. Sybil Leek and I both accept reincarnation as well as Astrology. Sybil Leek's
grandmother used to bake cookies that had the signs of the zodiac on them.
LLM: Psychiatrists claim that the only reason why witchcraft works is because one believes in it. No belief ... no power. What's your viewpoint on this?
EH: The same could be said for psychiatry. Patients have spent fortunes going from one psychiatrist to another because they weren't being helped. It's what psychoanalysis calls "negative transference." It simply means that the patient isn't getting better, and the psychiatrist can't reach him. "Positive transference" simply means that the patient "believes' in him. So he's helped. Regardless of the techniques used it all boils down to the same thing: Faith and trust. Furthermore, psychiatry it-self isn't an exact science and when you stop to consider the many opposing schools of thought ... Freud, Jung, Adler, so many others ... the kettle can't call the pot black!
LLM: One psychologist has said, "Witches, sorcerers and the like are still trying to magically wish away the terrors of their own childhood. Instead of being afraid of bogeymen at night they resolve this by becoming bogeymen themselves." Is this true? (We both broke-up laughing at this question!)
EH: No, it's not true in the cases I know. That doesn't mean that it doesn't apply in all cases. But the question here is why do people become ministers, rabbis, priests, psychiatrists and psychologists? Aren't the former trying to align themselves on the side of God as appeasement for their own unresolved fears? And aren't the latter doing the same thing without religion? And their answer would be, "No, not true in all cases, but ..." In any event that's what they say but how do we know?
LLM: What do you think of organized religion?
EH: I don't believe in organized religion. They have caused mankind great unhappiness, burdened people with guilt, created conflicts, so that most people can't live a full life on earth, can't really enjoy themselves without looking over their shoulder in fear that the "Hand of God" would punish them. The most unhappy people I know are very religious. What has witchcraft ever done in this world to compare with the bloodshed and tyranny caused by organized religion? When I think of this, if I wasn't a witch, then I'd have to become one.
LLM: Anton LaVey, high priest of the Satanist Church in San Francisco, has called white witches neopagan Christians, skulking around under a burden of guilt, afraid to be called evil, tea shoppe witches, plump little women sitting around threatening to turn each other into toads." Any comment?
EH: I don't accept that. I'm not interested in black magic or black witches, so-called. I call what I do white witchcraft because it's for good, to help others and myself. White witches have minds of their own and the Christian Church plays no part in our basic views. Just look into history and you'll find that white witches have always overpowered the black practitioners. White witchcraft has existed long before there ever was a Christian religion, as any historian can prove.
LLM: Isn't the devil or Satan as we have come to know him the creation of Christian theologians rather than that of the pre-Biblical Old Religion?
EH: Yes, definitely. The devil or the host of other names given to him, has never been given so much attention as it has in the Catholic Church. No other God of Darkness has been so deified in other religions as it has been in Christianity. One could ask: Is the Satan one worships a Christian black God or that of the Old Religion?
LLM: Could you elucidate more on White Magic?
EH: Yes, let me quote you from my article in the May-June 1969 PERSONAL HOROSCOPE
MAGAZINE, entitled "What Is White Magie?"
|Lige Clarke. |
photo by Eric Stephen Jacobs
A true witch knows that it is wise to take no notice of opposites or extremes. To divide the world into black and white, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, is to fail to look at it with real scrutiny. Magic is a power, in much the same way that nuclear energy or electricity is a power. Like these forces magic exists throughout the whole of creation, waiting for practitioners to cast its spells in unusual and unexpected ways. But it lies dormant and has no real character of its own until used. It is the character of the person who employs, magic that determines what kind of label it may claim. In the hands of the unscrupulous and malevolent person, magic is, according to the way most people think, black. But if a knowledgeable individual who is generally kind and thoughtful of others, uses magic, it becomes a wonderful tool, a potent and amazingly beneficial tool for mankind. Such a person is a miracle worker who heals, cures, and fixes things that are broken. Because he sees more clearly than most, he is able to guide ordinary people into paths of good fortune. In its pure state, magic is neither good nor bad. It is simply magic.
LLM: Do you engage in any witchcraft rituals, and if so what objects do you use?
EH: No, I don't engage in the usual rituals, with the exception of candles and of course herbs. Mine is more of a mental ritual rather than a physical one.
LLM: How do you earn your living?
EH: I'm both a practitioner and a teacher of Yoga. I have private students and classes. Yoga has helped me greatly as I've always had a health problem. The self-control over the body obtained by Hatha Yoga is now scientifically accepted, yet it is a natural method, one long known to witches, yogis, fakirs and mystics before science discovered that it works. I also write articles for various magazines such as STRANGE I UNKNOWN and YOUR PERSONAL HOROSCOPE.
Mr. Hadynn then gave me copies of these magazines which had articles both by and about him. I noted that on the inside back cover of the first there was an advertisement for books including two of mine, IT'S IN THE CARDS and IT'S IN THE STARS.
In an article "The White Witches of England" by John R. Nichols in the Jan.-Feb. issue of Personal Horoscope the author tells about a personal experience he had with Elijah Hadynn:
Of course, witches do practice incantations, and rely on the powers of magic to accomplish their ends. On one occasion, to show me how such tricks work, Elijah put a broomstick in the corner of a room to get rid of an unwanted guest.
He explained that the guest would stay no more than a half-hour after the broomstick had been placed. For a few minutes I doubted the efficacy of this procedure. The guest seemed intrigued by the sound of his own voice, and he talked on and on at an increasingly rapid rate. Suddenly, after only fifteen minutes had passed, he stood up and said, 'I must be going.' Without further ado, he wished us farewell and was gone.