Welcome to the fourth and final installment in my series examination of the notorious Process Church of the Final Judgment. The Process was originally founded in the mid-1960s by a husband and wife duo of former Scientologists known as Robert and Mary Ann de Grimston. At first the Process was but one of numerous cults that sprang up against the backdrop of the 1960s counterculture. By the early 1970s the Process commanded a relatively meager following but had gained ample amounts of notoriety due to the cult's linkage to the Manson Family via the publication of Ed Sander's The Family.
Despite this linkage being highly debatable at best conspiracy theorists in the years that followed would go on to link the Process to some vast underground occult network involved in the Son of Sam killings, the murders of Arlis Perry and Roy Radin, and international drug and sex trafficking. It all fell into place with the publication of Maury Terry's The Ultimate Evil in 1987, one of the chief tomes that inspired the so-called Satanic ritual abuse hysteria of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since then far more scholarly (if still highly flawed) accounts of this network have been written by the likes of David McGowan, Adam Gorightly, and Peter Levenda.
While I tentatively concede that compelling evidence has emerged that such a network exists I'm highly skeptical of its linkage to the Process. Over the course of this series I have attempted to provide compelling alternative explanations to the various connections to the Manson Family (as in the second installment) and the Son of Sam cult (third installment) as well as examining the credibility of Terry's research itself (first installment). As I hope the prior blogs have illustrated, the long alleged ties the Process had to some type of occult terror network are hardly as damning as conspiracy theorists have long claimed.
This isn't to say, however, that there wasn't something nefarious about the Process, especially the figure of Mary Ann de Grimston. Unfortunately, much of the research concerning the inner circle of the Process is deeply flawed if not grossly inaccurate. As a result, conspiracy researchers have for years followed red herrings (Robert de Grimston) while being unable to turn up any reliable background information about the true Process mastermind, Mary Ann de Grimston. Indeed, there is virtually no credible information available concerning Miss de Grimston's life before joining the Church of Scientology in the early 1960s other than the fact that she was born in 1931 in Glasgow, Scotland and that she had worked as a prostitute in some capacity prior to joining the Church.
|the only confirmed picture of Mary Ann de Grimston I'm aware of|
From these mysterious origins have come a host of rumors and speculation, most notably that Miss de Grimston was involved in some capacity in the Profumo Affair before signing up with the Scientologists.
"At the Hubbard Institute of Scientology in London he met Mary Anne MacLean, a woman who is said to have been engaged to prizefighter Sugar Ray Robinson in America for a brief period, before returning to England. Mary Anne MacLean was born in Glasgow on November 20, 1931, and was thus four years Robert Moore's senior. Before she met Moore, however, she became involved with several high-ranking British politicians a la Christine Keeler of the Profumo Affair... Christine Keeler was the mistress of British War Minister John Profumo and Soviet GRU agent Yevgeny Ivanoff; she herself also alleged that she slept with President John Kennedy on a trip she made to the United States in the summer of 1962...
"This, then, was the situation at the time Mary Anne MacLean met Robert Moore at Scientology headquarters in London; they then decided to break away, form their own operation, and get married. For someone like Mary Anne, it was probably a wise move: her profile in British society was not entirely low. Engaged to an American prizefighter, running in the same circles as Keeler and her associates, who were all being rounded up to 'help the police in their inquiries,' it was a smart move to decamped to the Scientologists and marry an intelligent and charismatic architect like Robert Moore, as cover if nothing else... Mary Anne MacLean's former fiancé, Sugar Ray Robinson, had even intended to make a film of the Profumo affair with Christine Keeler in the starring role opposite Sugar Ray himself, thus strengthening the link between MacLean, Robinson, Keeler and the Profumo Affair ... and from Profumo to Process."
(Sinister Forces Book I, Peter Levenda, pgs. 295-296)
Levenda is of course not the first researcher to link Mary Ann MacLean/Moor/de Grimston to the Profumo affair. Indeed, these rumors have been making the rounds for years as have the long-standing allegations that Mary Ann was married to boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. There is nothing, however, to substantiate these claims.
"Born illegitimately to a Scottish mother and an alcoholic father Mary Ann never knew, she'd been largely abandoned to live with relatives. After a wretched and unloved childhood in the slums of Glasgow, she made her way down to London where she fell under the sway of a group of Maltese pimps. A young life of having to fend for herself must have awarded her the necessary skills to give men what they both wanted and deserved. Although she wouldn't have wished for this to become public knowledge at the time, she appeared in the telling to be quite proud and unashamed of her life as a high-class call girl --with the emphasis, naturally, on high-class. She boasted, too, of her time in America on the arm of boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, and the many high-level and powerful men she had met in her calling.
"It's been suggested in some recent articles that Mary Ann might have had some involvement with the Profumo affair, the sex scandal that brought down a cabinet minister and the conservative government. Before I join The Process I bumped into Christine Keeler, one of the to call girls called as witnesses, who had heard nothing of a Mary Ann. Besides, I'm pretty certain that had she played a part in the scandal she'd have been only too ready to tell us all about it.
"It was often difficult to know whether Mary Ann was exaggerating about the people and events in her life, or indeed plain old making it all up. I certainly believed her in the moment. Yet there's no record, for example, of her ever marrying (as the story went) Sugar Ray, and his son assures us that to his knowledge there was never a Mary Ann in his father's life."
(Love Sex Fear Death, "My Life in the Process Church," Timothy Wyllie, pg. 55)
|Sugar Ray Robinson|
And then, in 1961, Mary Ann briefly steps onto the stage of recorded history (eventually) when she joins the Church of Scientology and quickly becomes an auditor. By 1965 this self-proclaimed former high-class prostitute had cofounded her own cult with Robert Moor, a former British military officer who was the son of an engineer and the grandson of a vicar, and whom Mary Ann had wed. Eventually they took on the last name de Grimston to sound more aristocratic.
As noted above, one of the most significant mistakes researchers of the Process have made time and again is the assumption that Robert de Grimston was the cult's leader and not without reason: Robert de Grimston was very much the public leader of the Process, with a messianic image of him hanging in every Chapter house of the cult. But it was Mary Ann who was the true power behind the throne, so to speak. Indeed, much of de Grimston's image during his time with the Process was the result of his wife's vision for him.
"They also started to dress very smartly, Mary Ann grooming Robert to fit some image she had of him. His hair appeared to have taken on a blonder sheen and had been elegantly cut to frame his face and accentuate his light blue eyes. The suit he was now wearing, one the increasingly infrequent occasions we all gathered together, was expensively tailored and buttoned to the neck in the style favored by the Beatles. The light fawn tone of the cloth appeared to have been chosen to work well with the color of Mary Ann's lose-fitting outfits. They become a fine-looking couple, glowing in the light of our admiration.
"I'd always known Robert as a modest man, something of a gentleman in the English tradition. That he showed no embarrassment when his photograph (with the intense stare of a mystic and his elegant sculpted hair) later became a requirement on the walls of the Chapter houses, was a clear sign of how much he'd changed under Mary Ann's influence.
"This led to another odd paradox at the center of the growing cult. Whereas the image of Robert in our magazines and promotional literature was often designed to appear self-confident and charismatic, the reality as the time passed was somewhat different."
(ibid, pg. 29)
|Robert de Grimston|
Conversely Timothy Wyllie (an early member of the cult who has provided the most in-depth account of the Process during his extended essay in Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment) alleges that the inner circle of the Process began to revere Mary Ann, even ascribing almost supernatural powers to her.
"By the time we sold all our possessions, said our goodbyes to unbelieving families and distraught friends and set off to find our island, there had already been some strange whispers circulating, mainly among the girls in the group. Who was this extraordinary woman who called herself Mary Ann? Where did her uncanny ability to see into the very deepest recesses of our personalities come from? How could she knows so accurately are most shameful needs and greeds? And how was she able to steer us so wisely in the ways of righteousness?
"'Sure,' the girls would say, 'Robert's out there in front, but that's only because Mary Ann wants it that way.'
"It was never any mystery to the women that Mary Ann was the power behind the throne...
"It was Claudia, a Welshwoman with a Celtic flair who first said it aloud as five or six of us --all women but myself --sat crammed into the tiny space she had carved out for herself on top of a large closet in the basement of Balfour Place. It was so obvious! How could we have missed it? Mary Ann must be the Incarnate Goddess Herself, the Mother of this World. And she'd chosen to incarnate and manifest to us. To us!
"While I'd heard some of this spiritual gossip before, Claudia saying it with such intuitive conviction shook me up, but it still didn't make any sense to me. I had already rejected the Anglican Church as a school boy and had long regarded myself as an atheist. No doubt Mary Ann was an exceptional woman, but The Goddess? That I simply could not accept.
"To be fair to Mary Ann, in those early stages, I don't believe that she ever claimed this role for herself. But over the years the acknowledgment became implicit, though seldom talked about. We all just knew who She was and I suspect we felt it was too sacred to bandy about. And to be more down-two-earth, may be if we had talked about it more openly, the concept would not have had quite the same hold on us all.
"Somewhat later, when we were all playing with different names and identities, Mary Ann came to call herself after the Greek goddess Hecate, known among other things for her hounds, and then briefly, after the Hindu divinity, Kali. So perhaps she did have some fleeting insight into the damage she frequently inflicted on those who displeased her."
(ibid, pgs. 35-36)
At this point let us briefly pause in our narrative to consider the implications of Mary Ann identifying herself with Hecate and Kali. First, Hecate:
"Hecate was the Goddess of the Dark of the Moon, the black nights when the moon is hidden. She was associated with deeds of darkness, the Goddess of the Crossways, which were held to be ghostly places of evil magic. An awful divinity,Hecate was also considered to be the goddess of necromancy and in some accounts of Medieval folklore hailed as the chief deity of the European witch cults (as Shakespeare makes reference to in Macbeth). As a lunar deity she was also closely associated with dogs, which makes Mary Ann assuming her name all the more fitting. While I've generally discounted the longstanding notions of individuals associated with the Process engaging in canine sacrifices it is interesting to note that such things were attributed to Hecate.
"Hecate of hell,"Mighty to shatter every stubborn thing."Hark! Hark! her hounds are baying through the town"Where three roads meet, there she is standing."(Mythology, Edith Hamilton, pg. 32)
"Typically of such chthonic sacrifice was the dog that could be offered to Hekate where three roads met, symbolic of her tripartite nature, an offering that would be made at night, unlike the daylight meal for an Olympian. The dog was considered a tame version of the wolf, and not entirely incapable of reverting unexpectedly into its werewolf ancestor, with all of that sinister connotations, including the possibility that a human could be possessed by its wild and outlaw spirit. We have inherited this tradition in our attitude towards 'bitches' and metaphors like the 'hounds of Hell.'"
(The World of Classical Myth, Carl A.P. Ruck & Danny Staples, pg. 40)
This is almost surely a case of synchronicity as it is far more likely Mary Ann would have sacrificed children than dogs to the gods, as we shall see. For now, let us return to Mary Ann's adoption of Hecate's name.
The Greek deity is also, like Kali, a death goddess. In general, Hecate is a goddess of contrasts.
"As a lunar and chthonian goddess, she was linked to fertility rites, but she displays two contrasting aspects. One is benevolent and benign -- she presides at seedtime and childbirth; she protects sailor; she grants prosperity, eloquence, victory, plentiful harvests to farmers and rich catches to the fishermen; and she is the guide on the path of Orphic purification. On the other side of the coin is her terrifying and infernal aspect. She is 'the goddess of ghosts and night-terrors... of phantoms and fearful monsters... she is the witch par excellence,' mistress of sorcery. She is only conjured up by incantation, by love charms or by death philtres."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pg. 489)
|Hecate is also a Triple or Threefold Goddess|
The same can also be said of Kali.
"There are two sides to the worship of the Indian Goddess Kali: her right side as benefactress and universal mother, her left side as fury and ogress."
(The White Goddess, Robert Graves, pg. 445)
Certainly this twofold nature, one of great nurturing, the other of great fury, is most apt a metaphor for Mary Ann's control over the Process. Eventually even Timothy Wyllie, who showed immense early hesitation to her, was seduced by her nurturing and intuitive nature in an almost shamanistic fashion.
"One evening when we were all sitting around on deck chairs and the town had grown quiet around us, we started the meditation that was to change my life. Within a few minutes of closing my eyes and quieting my mind I suddenly and unaccountably found myself flung into a raging river, crashing off underwater boulders, struggling to surface and breathe, until I finally gave up fighting and drowned. It was real and it was devastating.
"Although on some level I must have known I was lying safely on a deck chair, all my senses told me I was being battered to death in an unstoppable torrent of water. It was then, as I was still lying down, that I was shown, as if on a movie screen that filled my visual field, very rapid images of what I knew to be all my previous incarnations. Many hundreds of them flashed before my inner eye.
"Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. It was so completely unexpected and was suffused with such a profound reality that it was utterly convincing. I remain to this day still certain of its authenticity and thankful for the experience, although the immediate consequences of it were more of a mixed bless.
"When I returned to full consciousness, heaving with tears of wonderment and thoroughly shaken up, it was to find the once-filled courtyard now empty save for Mary Ann, still sitting back in her chair. I pulled myself over and knelt beside her. 'Were you the river, Mary Ann?' I blurted out.
"'Yes,' she replied, thus sealing my fate for years to come.
"Ah! The wisdom of retrospect. If I'd known then what I know now, that the whole drowning scenario was typical of a shamanistic initiation, would I ever have given my power to Mary Ann in such a cavalier fashion?
"By giving her the opportunity to claim to be the unstoppable force of Divinity. I'd put my head through a noose. I had decided the woman for as long as I'd known her and had been skeptical about Claudia's and other's claims, and yet here I was, finally all my ambivalence gone. I was convinced. I f indeed Mary Ann was the Incarnate Goddess, as I now believed I had proved to myself, how could I not serve Her and lay down my life for Her? I was not alone in this belief. All of the inner circle must have made their own way to the conclusions that we had a Goddess in our midst, but as I've noted, we increasingly held back our deepest thoughts and feelings."
(Love Sex Fear Death, "My Life Inside the Process Church," Timothy Wyllie, pgs. 37-38)
Eventually Mary Ann established a matriarchy around herself in the inner circle. Through a handful of women of whom she had total control over Mary Ann was able to dominate the rest of the church.
"When the Omega -- what Mary Ann and Robert were now calling themselves -- started retiring to the privacy of their apartment, they left the making of the money and the day-by-day running of the place to the rest of us. Mary Ann kept a firm hand one what was going on within the community through a series of proxies, the four or five women who had become close to her over the previous years. This point can also be seen as the start of the matriarchy -- these were the women who now wielded the power directly devolved from Mary Ann. This was a pattern that was to follow The Process through its various iterations."
(ibid, pg. 48)This magnetic hold MaryAnn had developed upon all members of the inner circle was known to rank-and-file members of the cult who had never had never even set eyes upon Mary Ann. Consider this account given by a low level member of the Foundation Church (the successor organization to the Process):
"It was actually Mary Ann who made the first large crack in my devotion to The Foundation. As a junior member, and being on the lowest rung of The Foundation hierarchy, I was never permitted to meet Mary Ann. That privilege --to gaze upon the countenance of the Most High --was reserved strictly for the 'Luminaries.'
"With time, that started to bother me. Here I was, a total convert. I had handed over my entire life to the group. Not just all my worldly possessions, which included one of the day's sexiest cars --a Mazda rotary engine sports car -- money, art, etc., but most importantly, my free will. I was told when and what to eat, to sleep, was sent into the street to raise money and was completely controlled 24/7.
"It seemed wrong to me that I could not even know what 'The Matriarch,' as she was called, looked like. So I wrote to her, asking in a much more diplomatic and worshipful way than this, why couldn't I meet my leader? I got back a note card, on the finest, thickest, embossed paper, in a large, strong and confident hand, saying essentially that I had it wrong. That she was just a 'friend' of The Foundation and not its leader.
"It was such an obvious lie and it had a profound effect on me. For her to deny she was the leader, while living in luxury on the toils of all the members, sending pronouncements from on high that affected our lives, struck me as so out of integrity that I had to question The Foundation as a whole. My temerity to write to her must have had some repercussions on those above me, because it elicited anger at me from some of the Luminaries I had close relationships with as well. So, for me, this became the beginning of the end."
(Love Sex Fear Death, "My Vulnerable Moment," Ruth Strassberg, pg. 170)
The extent to which Mary Ann was versed in the occult is difficult to discern. She clearly had some type of rudimentary understanding of it but most evidence suggests she primarily relied upon her intuition rather than formal learning. Consider, for instance, the bizarre take on sex magic that developed out of the arranged unions (and later marriages) that she and Robert thrust upon the cult.
"While we were encouraged to have as much sex as we desire during the week of our sacred marriage --we called it an 'Absorption' --sexual activity at other times, or with other partners, wasn't permitted. Yet with so much sexual energy in the air, it was inevitable that it would find expression in some unconventional ways. Mary Ann, as would become more evident later, was no stranger to sex magic. I don't believe she had any formal training in this, but given her psychism and her former profession, this would have been a natural path for her to explore. She was also well aware of the work of Wilhelm Reich and his unconventional theories concerning human sexuality and the power of orgasm.
"However, I don't think Mary Ann really knew what she was doing. Having fallen out of favor again, I wasn't close to her through this period, so I can only infer her motives from what filtered down to the rest of us. The spiritually married couples, for example, when they were not tucked away for their special week and therefore required to be celibate, were encouraged to engage in little sacred ceremonies in which, after a short prayer, each person brought themselves to orgasm. The male of the pair emptied himself into a carefully placed Super Bowl, the content of which, with the addition of a splash of paraffin, was then ceremonially burned along with other short prayer.
"There were other permutations, the best of which might be said to have challenged our English reserve and help push us through our sexual repression. And perhaps it was helpful in a way. It certainly released a lot of the pent-up energy that was bound to build up between us --we were young, vitally alive, yet living an abstinent life virtually on top of one another.
"In retrospect, the whole performance missed the central point of sex magic, which is to use the organism to focus energy to direct intention -- generally to accomplish the magician's ambitions. As far as my memory serves me, our prayers were designed to direct energy towards the three Gods --to dedicate the sexual energy to them -- and not for personal gain."
(Love Sex Fear Death, "My Life Inside the Process Church," Timothy Wyllie, pg. 61)As I hope the above illustrates, the evidence for the Process being an offshoot of some type of rabid Thelematic cult is flimsily at best when considering such rituals. While Mary Ann's intuition and psychism bordered on the frightening she clearly did not have an understanding of Crowleyian sex magick (one of the chief elements of Crowley's magical system). In fairness, however, it should be noted that the two goddesses Mary Ann identified with, Kali and Hecate, were significant in Crowley's theology (especially the former), but there is little overall evidence that Mary Ann was any type of serious student of Thelema.
|the long alleged "godfather" of the Process|
In general, there is nothing overly striking about the sexuality within the Process. In point of fact, it was quite prudish at most points with numerous former members reporting long periods of celibacy. The sexual practices that the cult embarked upon, such as those relating to the above-mentioned arranged marriages and the orgies performed by the inner circle (described briefly in part two of this series), seem to have more of a psychological rather than ritualistic agenda. On the one hand, they reinforced the control that Mary Ann possessed over the inner circle via the members willful submission to her numerous whims on these matters. On the other hand, many of these practices were seemingly quite traumatic to individual members. The arranged marriages frequently pitted couples together who were at odds with one another while the orgies forced members to engage in humiliating public displays of sexuality (such as forced homosexual practices on heterosexual men) time and again, for instance.
This combination of control and degradation undoubtedly was heavily influenced by Mary Ann's time as a prostitute during her youth. In general, her techniques in this matter more closely resemble those of a pimp than some type of occult practice.
As for the treatment of the cult's children, it was indeed quite abusive (as I've alluded to several times before) but there's no hard evidence of it being of a sexual nature (though there were certainly rumors, even among members). Consider this account of "Sister Beth":
"My main concern in The Process was the children. They rarely saw their parents unless their parents made efforts to do so, particularly in the New York City Chapter. I know this because in New York I had sole care from 9 a.m. to midnight of eight babies and children under the age of five, after which I gave birth to my own son.
"When I was in New York City a second time, I found out that older children had already been moved to a 'farm' out of the city, and the younger ones, age four and under, were being housed in a windowless basement room measuring about 10' X 10'. They were receiving regular medical care, their shoes were too small and cramping their feet, and they were bathed in a dank boiler room in which a kind of shower hose was rigged up.
"The rules concerning parents and children seemed arbitrary, harsh and sometimes just mean. I was punished, for example, by being shunned, for insisting on medical care for my son (he ended up in hospital) and then again for coming to his aid after a traumatic event.
"One Processean confided in me that her child was taken in the middle of the night, that she had no idea where the child was living, and that she was not to speak of it. Another told me that after her baby had died of SIDS in New Orleans she was transferred right away to another Chapter and was forbidden to tell anyone that her baby was dead.
"I was allowed to receive prenatal care only one month prior to giving birth. I was not permitted to go to the hospital once I'd entered labor until the higher-ups said I could, and I was in labor for 36 hours. At the time I was living in a room with one other woman (I had the bottom bunk bed, she the top), and about seven children.
"Mother Diana had her second child (Lucius was the father) taken away from her immediately after she gave birth. I don't know if she knew where the child was.
"In Chicago the children were cared for during the day by a woman with a heroin problem and an ex-con who used to wash paper diapers for reuse. There were unconfirmed allegations of sexual abuse of the children. They were left alone at night and their first-floor apartment. One child, Daniel (age eight or nine), leapt from the roof and fell on his back and was refused medical care.
"When I first got to the city, I was asked to go to the kitchen to help prepare a meal. I heard little kids voices from a room off the kitchen. The room turned out to be a pantry. When I open the door I found two approximately 18-month-old babies in nothing but dirty diapers, and a 3' X 8' room with a couple of windows place near the ceiling of the room. This is where they spent their whole days.
"When we were told money was tight and all food was 'retrieved,' Sister Julia fed her premature twins tea instead of formula for at least a couple of weeks. Her mother had to give her a charge card so she was able to buy formula for the infants.
"The dogs were fed much better than we were. They were being given nice big chunks of red meat while our dinner was whatever we found in the dumpsters behind the supermarket in Toronto."
(Love Sex Fear Death, "Marriage and Children in the Process Church," Kathe McCaffrey, pgs. 163-164)
The allegations of child abuse are surely one of the most disturbing aspects of the Process, and of which apparently few members were aware of for years. Even more curious is the question of what became of many of these children. In an instance of one child close to Timothy Wyllie, he reveals that their fate was not a good one:
"... I called to tell him about the death of Daniel, the child I had cared for as a punishment back in the early days The Process. Now a boy in his late teens, Daniel had left the community some years earlier and had apparently fallen in with a bad crowd. No doubt his mother, who stayed in the group, kept in some kind of touch with him, but it wasn't our practice to care much about those who quit. At a party, he had a disagreement with someone described as his best friend. This boy reappeared with a gun and threatened Daniel, who foolishly challenged his friend to shoot him. His friend evidently complied and shot Daniel dead.
"Never one to have given much time to The Process children, I found myself horrified at Daniel's death and the attitude that caused it. When I related the story over the phone to Robert, pointing out that Daniel's careless regard for his own life reflected how poorly we had raised our children, Robert exploded with anger. He simply couldn't accept that the boy's death and the negligent way the children were generally treated had anything to do with him."
(Love Sex Fear Death, "My Life Inside the Process Church," Timothy Wyllie, pg. 125)It's difficult to know what to make of the cult's treatment of children. Perhaps there was something truly sinister in this regard but it should be noted, however, that Mary Ann hated children and possessed an almost pathological loathing of childbirth in general. Indeed, one of her few contributions to the Process magazine (specifically the "Sex" issue) centered upon her distaste for childbirth.
"We know it's the fashion now, the latest thing for 'with it' people. That's fair enough, but wait! What tells you, lady, that childbirth's something you should share with your husband, that he should be there to watch you groaning in agony and twisted grotesquely out of shape? What tells you he should witness your humiliation? We know the clever people in books say there IS no humiliation, that it's natural and beautiful and should, therefore, be brought into the open and shown to everyone, especially your husband. But you know that's wrong! You can see the logic of it, but what's logic when your feelings tell you something quite different? And what DO your feelings tell you? That whatever the clever say, it IS ugly, it IS humiliating, it IS grotesque, hideous and degrading."
(Love Sex Fear Death, "Images," Mary Ann de Grimston, pg. 250)
|naturally Mary Ann's reflections on childbirth appeared in the "Sex" issue of the Process magazine|
Needless to say, the prospect of the cult's abuse of children stemming from the matriarch's own issues concerning children is certainly a credible explanation for this development. But this was hardly the only "quirk" that Mary Ann possessed. She was also apparently quite fascinated by the ideologies of fascism and Nazism, a notion conspiracy theorists have long been well aware of.
"Their emblem was a stylized swastika, which in all fairness could have meant they were Buddhists; however, the philosophy of the Process and its alleged origins as a front for a German neo-fascist group, coupled with Mary Anne's belief that she was the reincarnation of Joseph Goebbels, seems to indicate a Nazi rather than a Buddhist inspiration."
(Sinister Forces Book I, Peter Levenda, pg. 297)
I've been unable to confirm the longstanding allegations that Mary Ann believed she was the reincarnation of Joseph Goebbels, but Timothy Wyllie acknowledges that her fascination with Nazism was quite real and more than a little disturbing.
"Mary Ann never made any apologies, for instance, about having considerable sympathy and respect for the Nazi regime. Doubtlessly it suited her authoritarian personality. A story I have heard her relate more than once is of her as a small girl of nine or ten, who found herself leaving her physical body and being transported into Hitler's bunker during World War II. There she would slip around the table in her astral form whispering into the general's ears. Whether she ever claimed to observe der Fuehrer's legendary rages, I don't recall, but if she had I can only imagine she would have egged him on in his carpet-biting frenzies.
"As we of the inner circle came to know Mary Ann better, I'm sure each of us in our own way had to struggle to make sense of, or to excuse, many of her more extreme opinions. She clearly admired much of what well-educated young liberals disliked and dismissed. Although not classically anti-Semitic, she could sound that way when applying the exceptionally harsh teachings of The Process on Responsibility, and holding the Jews as liable for the complicity in their own destruction as the Nazis were for their genocidal impulses.
"It was also clear that she held a much higher regard for animals and humans. She had a soft spot for dictators and right-wing ideologues."
(Love Sex Fear Death, "My Life Inside the Process Church," Timothy Wyllie, pg. 56)
|Mary Ann was also famously obsessed with German shepherds, which happened to be Hitler's favorite breed of dog as well|
At one point this right-wing ideologue soft spot involved sending Wyllie and a Jewish member of the Process to meet with George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party, days before he was assassinated.
"Michael and I stopped in to visit George Lincoln Rockwell, the 'American Nazi, 'out of allegiance to Mary Ann's interest in extreme ideologies.
"It was about 11 p.m. on a dark, moonless night when we drew up to a nondescript tract house in our Thunderbird. What we didn't know was that there had already been an assassination attempt on Rockwell a few months earlier.
"When we knocked on the door we could hear a lot of uneasy scrambling from inside before the door cracked open and a pair of hooded eyes checked us out. Perhaps it was our black uniforms that reassured him, because after some to-ing and fro-ing over his shoulder, we were allowed into a small, plain room.
"Rockwell sat in the only armchair. Like our dogs in the back seat of the T-Bird, he too was sitting rigidly upright. He didn't get up when we were ushered in and pushed in front of him. He looked younger than I thought he was going to be, with a buzzcut and a surprisingly open, pleasant face, marred now by a fixed scowl that didn't leave him while we were there. Whether the scowl was for us or to impress his bodyguards, it was hard to say. He had a military bearing, but was clearly a frightened man.
"Around the room, standing awkwardly, each with a hand tucked in their jackets, were half a dozen large man, also scowling.
"It was not an easy conversation and the men never removed their hands from under their jackets. The conversation was brief and so inconsequential that I recall nothing of it, except the relief I felt in getting out of the place.
"Later I found out that Lincoln Rockwell was killed in August 1967 by a disgruntled ex-member of his party and only days after our visit.
"I should add that Michael is the scion of a wealthy Jewish family, and I can only imagine that Mary Ann instructed him to visit Rockwell as a way of testing his mettle..."
(ibid, pgs. 80-81)
|George Lincoln Rockwell|
Rockwell was a truly bizarre figure whose death (as well as life) is shrouded in mystery. He was associated with many curious figures and may even have had some type of connection to JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
"Rockwell communicated regularly with neofascists around the world, but his main focus was on stirring up trouble in the United States... Not surprisingly, Rockwell's organization became a magnet for kooks, criminals, juvenile delinquents, psychopathic misfits, and other mentally unbalanced individuals who joined the American Nazi Party to gain a sense of self-worth and belonging that was otherwise lacking in their alienated existence. Often these losers drifted from one extremist group to another...
"Such was the case with... Don Burros, who once edited Stormtrooper, the American Nazi Party's newsletter. Burros quit the group because he felt that Rockwell was to moderate. A former Nazi Party associate claimed that Burros enjoyed torturing dogs, including his own pet, Gas Chambers. Curiously, Burro's name and address (along with Rockwell's) were subsequently discovered in the notebook of Lee Harvey Oswald, the man accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy. After JFK was murdered, Burros wore a button with the words 'Lee Harvey Oswald Fan Club.'"
(The Beast Reawakens, Martin A. Lee, pgs. 162-163)The above-mentioned Burros figured later committed suicide on October 31, 1965 (yes, Halloween) after the New York Times revealed that he was Jewish. Still, his interest with killing dogs is most appropriate in this context, but I digress.
During the final year of Rockwell's life William Luther Pierce, eventual founder of the National Alliance and author of the notorious Turner Diaries (a book with a fan base that included both Order founder Robert Matthews and alleged Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, among others), had also signed up with his outfit. It's impossible to know whether Pierce, who also lived in Virginia (the location where Rockwell also lived and was assassinated), was present at the time of Rockwell's meeting with the Process but this is surely a curious convergence of individuals and organizations regardless.
As I've noted before in part three of this series, there are many striking appearances of neofascist and Nazi ideology surrounding the individuals Maury Terry and other researchers charged with being involved with some type of underground cult network. I'm inclined to give this theory merit, in no small part due to the numerous references I've come upon concerning some type of right-wing military cabal during my research on various topics, but linking such an outfit with the Process is far less plausible.
The obsession that Mary Ann possessed with Nazism, however, is one of the more compelling arguments for the involvement of the Process in some type of nationwide network. After all, as noted in part three, there was in fact a right wing paramilitary underground network (comprised of members of the Minutemen, the Christian Identity movement, the KKK, and other such organizations) that was in existence from the mid-1960s until at least the early 1990s. And certainly the Process approached far right ideologues from time to time. In addition to Rockwell, the Process (then calling itself the Foundation Church) also met with notorious segregationist Gov. George Wallace and apparently even performed a faith healing for him.
But these incidents are hardly damning. After all, the Process met with various counterculture icons such as Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Abbie Hoffman as well as various rock stars. While Rockwell and Wallace are most definitely out of place amongst such circles the potential shock value was likely the driving motive behind any type of courtship that may have occurred. The same could be said of when the Process briefly embraced Manson, as noted in part two.
So, what then are we to make of this cult and the truly enigmatic woman who ran it?
Based upon the descriptions given of the Process' leadership structure (and the incredible lengths to which it took to break into it), it seems highly improbable that the Process could have been infiltrated by some type of intelligence agency. Indeed, Wyllie even alleges that the Process caught several spies trying to do just this from time to time. Thus, if there was something truly nefarious about the Process, then it was surely present in leadership before the cult was actually founded. And, as I hope this article has thoroughly illustrated, the most logical candidate for such dirty deeds was clearly Mary Ann. After all, Robert de Grimston failed by all accounts to found a rival cult when Mary Ann kicked him out of the Process while Mary Ann was not only able to hold the cult together but able to continue controlling key members for decades afterwards. She was still reportedly in firm control of the Process' final incarnation, the Best Friends Animal Society (yes, the one that appeared on the TV series DogTown), up until the time of her death in 2005.
Indeed, it seems entirely impossible that some type of ulterior objective could have been carried out in the Process without Mary Ann's involvement in some capacity --she simply had to firm a hold on key leaders and the inner circle as a whole. So the question becomes, is it possible that Mary Ann was some type of operator? Even Timothy Wyllie, who has roundly dismissed and debunked countless conspiracy theories surrounding the Process, could not totally discount the possibility that there was something truly sinister about Mary Ann's activities.
"It has been suggested by some that The Process was in the pay of an intelligence agency, MI5 or the CIA. While there was a time back in London when we used to joke that there were more plainclothes policeman eating in Satan's Cavern than there were regulars, it would have been extremely difficult for any intelligence agent to infiltrate our group: the demands were so exhaustively rigorous. There was the one laughably obvious attempt by Bill Clement, the RCMP intelligence agent, but we ended up such good friends that it was barely an infiltration that a spy could be proud of.
"There is one possibility, but I doubt if we'll ever know the answer to it. Could Mary Ann herself have gotten involved with British intelligence early on, before even Compulsion Analysis, before we all knew her? Was she used as cynically as she'd been using us?
"And what of the community itself? Was it always a sham? Some obscure behavior modification project cooked up by sinister intelligence agencies?
"Setting that aside since there's no hard evidence of this whatsoever, it's obvious that collectively we made some self-defeating decisions over the course of the years."
(Love Sex Fear Death, "My Life Inside the Process Church," Timothy Wyllie, pg. 119)
It's especially important to note the part about there being no hard evidence. It's entirely possible that Mary Ann was simply a true freak of nature, an intuitive of the highest order. There are such people walking around out there and they tend to be magnets for high weirdness in general.
But what are we to make of her all but nonexistent background? Mary Ann seemingly went to great lengths to cover up her life prior to joining the Church of Scientology. This may well have been out of shame, especially if she had simply been a common prostitute (as opposed to the high-class variety who slept with VIPs).
And yet she continued to go to great links to ensure that her life remained hidden behind a veil of secrecy up till the time of her death. Her total obsession with secrecy, to the point of almost denying any connection to the cult, is in stark contrast to many cult leaders and other charismatic religious figures (i.e. Pat Robertson) who tend to be megalomaniacs fixated upon publicity and fame. Indeed, such an all-consuming obsession with secrecy is far more characteristic of professional criminals or intelligence agents than cult figures (but not unheard of among such).
When all is said and done, it's impossible to make any decisive conclusion as far as Mary Ann de Grimston is concerned. Indeed, it's difficult to even find an ending for her saga. Since I can't top Timothy Wyllie, I shall simply quote his final thoughts on her, namely the events surrounding her death:
"Since there appears to be no death certificate and the inner circle continues to be reluctant to talk about her, Mary Ann's death remains as mysterious as her life. Secretive even after the end.
"On one of the two visits I paid my old colleagues at the animal sanctuary, many years after I left the community, they showed me the house they'd built for Mary Ann, overlooking an artificial lake they had created. With its somber interior and massive canted walls --which, when I tapped them, turned out to be made of plywood --the house appeared to be designed to mimic the grandeur of early Egyptian architecture, more mausoleum than domicile.
"I asked Mary Ann in a letter why she'd had it constructed in that style?
"'Because I wanted it to look like a tomb,' she had replied.
"Since the community wants to keep quiet about Mary Ann's death --and the only reason it is known at all was a leak from one of the inner circle -- it's impossible to know the true facts of her demise.
"The rumor that has been circulating is savage, sadly ironic and perhaps even a little satisfying to those who have thought that a karmic debt needed to be paid. Until more is known about the facts of her death, it seems to be all that we have to go on.
"Mary Ann was taking an evening stroll, so the story goes, walking slowly around the far side of the lake that the tomblike house overlooks, when a pack of wild dogs set on her, tearing her throat out and ripping her body apart.
"If that wasn't irony enough for a woman who called herself Hecate, the wild dogs were believed to be escapees from the animal sanctuary, the very place that appears to be the final iteration of her brainchildren: Compulsion Analysis, The Process Church of the Final Judgment and The Foundation Faith of the Millennium."
(ibid, pg. 124)