Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dark Times in the Home Town

This is another biographical piece that I produced about an event that powerfully impacted and shaped me when I was a youth, many years ago. This occurrence was practically forgotten by me, but resurfaced as a result of the invocation of Seraphiel, whom I had previously connected with, probably in December 1972. The spring of 1973 was the beginning of some dark times for me, although at the time, I was not aware of how it would profoundly impact me. This event produced a kind of fork in the path of my destiny, one full of wonder and speculation.

The time was the end of the year 1972, and the place was a small southeastern Wisconsin town called Racine, nestled up next to the mighty lake Michigan, a fresh water lake that seemed endless, giving a complete and unbroken view of the eastern horizon - at least from the golden sandy beaches. The lake was a powerful geologic force, since it kept the area warmer in the fall and cooler in the spring and early summer. Lake Michigan was barely able to sustain wading let alone swimming until late summer, since it remained frigidly cold for most of the duration of the short summer months. Because of the lake, Racine was frequented with rolling fogs and damp mists that would blanket the neighborhood and make visibility almost negligible.

In addition to the fog and mists that would emerge from the lake, the land itself had many peculiar qualities - it had once been a major religious site for the previously indigenous Potawatomi Indians. The whole area had once been covered in many spectacular mounds, some of which contained the burials of the honored ancestors. Most of these had been plowed over by settlers, so only a few of the mounds still existed. The old center of town had once been a major religious shrine, now it was completely built over with eldritch homes, strange twisted trees, streets and ivy covered buildings. Walking around this part of town one becomes aware of the subtle layering of ages and times, mostly now long forgotten.

Overlaying Indian holy sites and burial grounds is not an uncommon phenomena in the Midwest, but it seemed that such a desecration had an unfortunate impact on the future of the town, which had started out as a peaceful settler’s village back in the 1840's. The Root river passed through the middle of the downtown area and meandered through it, splitting the town into two sections. The south side was the oldest part of town and also the place where the burial mounds were located in more profuse numbers. The old settled part of the town was built on top of one of the most sacred sites for the Potawatomi Indians, who had been driven from their land and later moved to reservations in Nebraska. I often wondered if this act had any impact on the citizens living there now. Rumors told that a series of unsolved murders had occurred in this area over the span of many decades, but it was just rumors. I doubt that anyone would either sense or realize what had been done to that part of town over 130 years ago. That remained for the occult sensitive, such as myself and my friends.

The place that was probably the most tenebrous was the area south of what was later known as the Gateway technical institute, but was then known as Parkside, an extension of the university system, soon to be moved far south into a full blown university. Following Main Street south past the university extension, starting from around 9th Street, past East Park, all the way down to De Koven Avenue and hugging the lake front is an area populated with large old homes, and during the evening, it’s inhabited by even stranger vibes, especially when a fog comes in from the lake. The whole area seems haunted, especially at night, when I and my friends would tool around this area in an old car. Main Street would abruptly end and a barely paved road went down to the lakefront at a place that could only be described as menacing, forlorn and deserted. Perhaps once there had been a pleasant beach there, in fact we called it the 17th Street beach, but it now contained the ruined foundations of a pavilion and rows of giant boulders of limestone and slabs of concrete that looked like huge grave markers, placed there to break the waves and keep them from ablating the coastline. There were also a series of dilapidated storm fences set up to keep the sand from blowing into the town. It was a place that was infrequently visited, and one that was harsh, cold, and soulless even on a good day. During the winter large sections of ice would pile up on the beach making it even more of a forbidden area, and treacherous terrain to walk on as well.

In 1972, two education PhD candidates, who had been teaching high school in town for many years, got permission from the school district to found their own experimental high school. It would be a kind of “free” high school that would not have the regimentation of a typical school, even though it would still require passing classes and acquiring credits, thereby having at least a nominal curriculum to follow. Although unnamed for a time, it became known as Walden III - the students and the faculty had a hand in choosing the name. This school also allowed for a greater degree of student freedom to delve deeper into particular studies and enrichment courses. There were far fewer students than a typical highschool in the area, these were all hand picked from existing junior and senior classes of the three city high schools. This low ratio of student to teacher encouraged more interaction between them. The school district gave the school use of an old but serviceable building, known as the McMinn building (the original high school for the town) located on the corner of 6th Street and Lake Avenue. This was very close, I might add, to that more unusual part of town. Being located at that school allowed my friends and I proximity to a part of town that was miles away from where we lived. It would prove to be providential, since I became quite familiar with that area.

The autumn of 1972 was probably one of the most glorious times in my life. I had changed from a typically regimented high school to Walden III. There I was allowed to pursue my artistic and occult interests to a degree that would not have been tolerated in a normal high school. I had also come out as a witch in my previous high school and the harassment that I received at the hands of my fellow students was almost too much to bear. So I had talked my father into letting me switch to this school. Typically, individuals who enrolled in this school were borderline drop outs or scholastically troubled individuals. I fit neither of these types, other than my issues with being a public witch. There are a number of stories about that wondrous magical autumn that I had at that school, but I will leave all that for a different story.

Needless to say, my favorite friend and companion was a young man named Scott Malueg, who assisted and aided me to create an entire magickal system almost from scratch. We had few books and materials to aid us, but we had a boundless imagination and youthful exuberance. Our many adventures are etched in my memory. It was a time of almost limitless possibilities. Then after the Christmas season, I learned that my good friend Scott was moving out of town before the second semester would barely even start. He departed during the cold winter, his family loading up a converted bus with all their belongings and headed down to Jalisco, Guadalajara, in Mexico. His father was pursuing some mining deal down there, but later it amounted to nothing. However, I was left alone with my magical work undone. Luckily for me, I had my two other good friends, Bob and Mark to fill in the gap. Bob also had a car, an old faded red ‘65 Rambler American that he could use whenever he wanted to. We spent a lot of time in that car driving around for no good reason, just looking for trouble or creating mischief. Unfortunately, we got more than we bargained for.

At Walden III, I had the reputation of being the high school witch and practitioner of magic. I dressed the part, wearing an English bowler derby hat and playing my flute in the hallways. Once I even donned my magician’s robes and traipsed around the corridors. I had started learning to play the flute, it seemed that I had some talent, since it didn’t take me long to learn. I was also experimenting in painting with oils and acrylics and filled up reams of drawing pads with various sketches of nearly everyone and everything. I also had a pretty decent hand at using pen and ink to draw portraits and produce fine calligraphy. If I was not engaged in drawing, I was attempting to write stories and pursuing my occult studies with a kind of abandon. Many weekends were spent working magic of some kind, and other note books were filled with occult experiments. I even set up my bedroom as a kind of occult magical temple, quite capable of performing all sorts of magical experiments (if only I knew how). My friend Bob set up a temple in his bedroom as well, so we often performed rites in either place, depending on what our parents were doing at the time. My bedroom consisted of the entire attic of the house, converted into a bedroom, which afforded me with a lot of privacy.

So my reputation at school was pretty well established. If anyone wanted to know anything about the occult, magic or witchcraft, they only had to talk to me, not that talking to me was particularly easy or comfortable for people. Generally, the other kids left me alone, having determined that I was driven by a mono-mania and lacking basic social skills, I was not one to chum around with unless one was willing to engage in other more nefarious activities. One thing that I did have in common with my school chums is that we were all experimenting with drugs of various kinds, although I was limited by my access to the more harmless variety, such as marijuana and hashish. These were plentiful, if you had money, but not having much money, they were more often rare delights for me rather than normal activities.

It was during the long months of winter that our tale really begins. I was deeply absorbed in my pursuits, so much so that I was practically oblivious to what was going on around me. There were others around me who were engaged in occultism and mild forms of witchcraft, and perhaps even a few who were exposed to much darker pursuits, such as Satanism. We were all really young kids, so the depth and profundity of these pursuits were actually quite superficial, meant as trendy interests and involvements with anything that was “counter culture” or of shock value to our parents. This was not the case with me, however, but with most others it was a superficial adventure.

Anyway, I remember one late afternoon I was painting in my make-shift studio when someone came by briefly to disturb my reverie. The door was open, so I was slightly aware of what was going on in the halls. An attractive young woman came past the door with a couple of her friends. I had never seen this woman before, but her friends were students with whom I had a slight acquaintance. I went up to the door to see who it was, and one her friends said, “This is that guy I was tellin’ you about.” She then looked me in the eye and smiled a shy smile, and said rather directly, “I gotta go, but we need to talk!” I took this brief conversation in, and before I could reply, she and her friends had gone. I thought to myself, “Okay, nice looking petite girl wants to talk to me, so I hope that she does.” Normally, my peer group didn’t want to talk to me about the occult or witchcraft, so this was a rare event, and one that I remembered quite well, even years later. This is because the woman who spoke to me and told me that we needed to talk was named Tina Davidson. She may have told me her name in parting, but I didn’t remember it. I just remembered how lovely she looked and how bold and self assured she seemed. A power to be reckoned with in a small package, I had thought.

This happened in March 1973, probably almost 37 years ago. The reason why this moment was etched in my brain is because of what happened soon afterwards. March was dreary, cold, foggy at times, it seemed that Spring would never happen. I had all but forgotten that some cute young woman had talked briefly to me and promised to talk more later. I was absorbed in the difficulties and troubles of my own life, and had little time or interest to be concerned with anyone else’s troubles. Yet for some reason, I began to feel a kind of dread, causing the joy of my new occult discoveries to darken and fade quickly away. It was as if time were holding its breath for some reason, and little happened that was either pleasant or stimulating for me.

Then on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 27, there was a seemingly terrible commotion in the hallways. It was subtle, some young women were crying and talking about some horrible incident, then there was a kind of hush throughout the hallways of the old school. I went around to pique my curiosity and discovered that some girl named Tina had been horribly murdered. She had been missing for ten days now and her naked body had been found at the 17th Street beach area. She had been brutally murdered and then stabbed in the throat and chest 61 times. I was shocked by the news, but it didn’t seem to be anyone that I had actually known, so it really didn’t affect me, or so I thought.

A day or so later, Tina’s friends accosted me in my studio and told me that their dead friend had been trying to get a hold of me. Not being a member of the school (she was only 15 years old and too young to enroll), she had been banned from coming into the building, having been caught hanging around with her friends on more than one occasion. Her friends were absolutely terrified that some group of Satanists that they all knew about had performed this horrifying deed. I then was shocked and dismayed to hear that this lovely, shy, petite but tough young woman, who had been trying to see me and who had briefly talked to me, had met such a terrible end. Her two friends, one was named Peggy and the other was called “Cricket” invited me over to their home to meet with them and their friends, to talk about what they were all going to do. They wanted me to magically protect them from this group of young thugs. I agreed, so I found myself over at their place, a basement bedroom and living room that had a lace and black silk doorway. These women, of course, wanted revenge and justice, but my magical abilities were certainly not up to the task. All I could do was console them and offer forms of magical protection.

Then I went home, deeply troubled by what I had experienced. In the days following, I discovered that I was having terrible nightmares - scenes of the grizzly murder occurred as if I were the one being murdered. I also had all sorts of strange sensations and thoughts that were definitely not part of my normal mental regimen. I soon realized that I was being possessed by the spirit of this dead woman. I was obsessed by her, and her image and thoughts seemed to penetrate my very being - to the core of my self. I was no longer one person, I was now housing two people, although my normal self maintained a strong dominance, thankfully.

I began to have conversations with Tina in my temple, since that seemed to be where I could sort all of this out and hear and properly sense the other “soul” possessing me in a distinct and clear manner. Tina told me that she was afraid and confused. She knew that she was dead, but she didn’t know what to do next. Of course, neither did I. So we were both stumped by this strange occurrence. A few days later, I confided to a friend who had occult leanings and some experience about what was going on, and he suggested using the Tibetan Book of the Dead to help the spirit of Tina find its way to the other side. I would act as her guide. This friend even lent me the book, edited and written by Timothy Leary (The Psychedelic Experience), so I crafted a spell to guide Tina beyond the threshold of the living into the domain of the spirit world. I did this to help her, but also to help myself be released from this quasi possession. The version of this spell was written in a notebook that I still possess today. I don’t know the exact date that I performed this rite, but it was accomplished some time in early April, almost exactly a year later from when I officially began my path and alignment to the Goddess of Witchcraft. (Obviously, another story.)

I recall performing this ritual quite vividly and the vision that I had is still accessible, almost as if it had happened yesterday. I saw myself walking with Tina to a great veil of light that stretched in all directions from the ground of what seemed like a desolate wasteland with a strange city in the hidden distance. We were both wearing magical robes and walking hand in hand, like lovers. She parted from me, then walked up to the veil and turned to face me one last time. She said “Don’t seek to avenge my death. It was done by no one I knew in life. I wish for peace and happiness to all - forget this bitter event and live life to its fullest. Know this - that I did find you at last, and now I am going to my final place of peace. We have met and joined briefly together, so maybe that’s what might have been had I lived, or perhaps more. What’s done is done and nothing can change it. I leave with a tear and a smile.”

So saying that, she passed beyond the veil and I saw and felt her presence no more within me. She was truly gone and the spell had been very successful, even more than I had anticipated. I felt almost abandoned, as if there was a gaping hole left in me, like someone very dear and important was gone forever. I puzzled over her words, only dimly remembered until recently. I drew a colored picture of this vision that I saw of her standing before the veil and made a painting of it later. It was an astonishing occurrence, even for one as young and inexperienced as I was. I believed that if Tina had not been murdered that something wonderful and romantic might have happened between us. Who knows, maybe she might have been the mother of the children that I never had. It’s a possibility whose forced negation powerfully shaped my destiny. Instead of finding a life partner at an early age, I wandered from relationship to relationship, with many years in between them. However, that allowed me the maximum amount of time and focus on my personal practice of ritual magick, witchcraft and occultism. I was able to follow my impulses without being responsible to anyone but myself. Such a long period of personal freedom and following my occult muse had both its benefits and costs.

Tina was very likely the victim of a serial killer, since she sought no vengeance or retribution against the one who had killed her. She had been hitchhiking in the area and was picked up by this man, a one in a million chance, since if anyone else had picked her up, or if she had been delayed or not there, someone else might have died instead. She said that she didn’t know who killed her, but released from the cares and worries of life, she did not want to dwell on it. She had implored me not perform any magick against her killer and had implied that the group of Satanists she had known had not been responsible for her death. I promised not to perform any magick against her killer, but I stubbornly believed that the young group of Satanic punks were responsible.  I was not alone in that belief.

Her friends had been absolutely terrified, thinking that this group Satanic thugs had been the perpetrators of the murder, who would thus seek to strike again. They sought me out to aid and comfort them, and I did what magick I knew and could share with them. There were no further incidents, since the event of the murder appeared to have broken up the Satanic group, probably because they no longer were able to meet. Faced with true evil, they had capitulated. If they had actually done the deed, one of them would have told the police later on at some point, to ease their conscience, but to this day, the murder has never been resolved. Even a police detective visited me in my school studio, talking to me about who I thought might have murdered Tina. I am sure that my thoughts and opinions were quite bizarre and unusual to him. He probably got some of the same information from Tina’s friends as well. But all for naught, since the real perpetrator was never discovered and brought to justice.

I held on to my belief that the Satanic gang had done the deed, as did Tina’s friends. During this interlude, I met and briefly befriended some of Tina’s closest friends, including a beautiful dark haired and brown eyed woman who was slightly older than me named Cricket. She was originally from Salem, Massachusetts, and her mother still lived at the address of 9 Gallows Hill road. Being older and also hip to magic and witchcraft, Cricket was kind of the leader of this group, although Peggy had a very strong and determined personality as well, acting as a kind of den mother for a group of young women.

A dim recollection of mine is going into a bar with Cricket and a friend of hers to see where the Satanic punks gathered. I recall Cricket pointing them out to me with a certain amount of personal venom. She even got out of the booth that we were sitting in and went over to where several youths in dark clothing and leather jackets were sitting on stools before the bar, and said something to them which I didn’t hear. The supposed leader got off of his stool and stood before Cricket, saying something to the effect, “We had nothing to do with that!” I also vaguely remember him looking quite distressed and shouting at Cricket, “Stop telling people that we did that! Stop talking to the cops!” I also thought Cricket may have said something like, ‘What are you gonna do about it if I don’t?” Then the leader backed down, and just said, “Just cool it! We didn’t do it!” Even though at the time I had disbelieved their statements of innocence, today I must state that they were probably telling the truth. Nothing about their actions seemed to indicate anything other than shock, horror and dismay at what had happened to Tina.

I hung around with Cricket for several weeks, and I must admit that I really was a bit infatuated with her. She was brave, street smart, savvy and very much a free spirit - like Tina, she was a petite woman with a lot of power. I loved her Boston accent, her direct manner and her warm heart. Then her and a friend hitchhiked down to Nashville to see some friends and get away from the coldness of the tardy spring in Wisconsin. She came back, but I suppose the wander-lust had set in, and it was apparent that Cricket was done with Racine. Before summer could begin to warm up the cold and bitter weather, Cricket left to return to her old haunts, so I lost an important friend and possible ally in my religious search for a coven of witches. Tina’s other friends split up and went their separate ways, so I soon lost the sodality of their fierce and devoted company.

However, my friends Bob and Mark were a great solace and refuge for me. We traveled around in Bob’s old car, dropping LSD (which we had recently acquired), smoking pot and behaving quite strangely. We would use the drugs to enter into an underworld, a negative image of our own home town and found all sorts of unusual places, like a hidden drainage valley that went on for miles in the northwest part of town, and the desolate beach area off of 17th Street, where Tina’s body had been discovered. The beach had become haunted with a horrific reputation and vibes that were dark, brooding and terrible to behold, particularly when altered by drugs combined with a potent imagination. We would occasionally go there to futilely try to overturn whatever evil power had found a home there, but only time would dissipate the memory and the effects of that terrible event.

Many years have passed since that time. I fully realize now that my belief that some punks practicing Satanism had been responsible for Tina’s murder was a complete fabrication. No one ever knew who had done the terrible deed, and the police had recently put out a post on their web site to see if anyone could still possibly help them solve the case. My psychic impressions recently attempted to sense if that perpetrator was still at large, but I felt nothing, as if the murderer had himself been killed or died in some other altercation. The case is long cold and all possible threads to the killer are irretrievably lost. You can find the police case website at this location, along with several other unresolved murders that have happened in that city.

I still believe that there is a tangible negative emanation coming from below the town in the southeastern side of Racine, due to the demolished Indian burials and sacred ceremonial sites, but that’s just my opinion. Yet I will never forget that event in 1973 and everything else that followed as long as I live.

Frater Barrabbas


  1. The serial killer of my hometown did not have such an important role in my own magical growing up, but he has remained a continuing puzzle problem for me.

    He has been a signpost for a road not to follow, that Zodiac.

  2. I remember you and Scott from Horlick. I'm an astrologer now.