Friday, January 27, 2012

Latin American High Weirdness: The Cults V

In part four of this series I began examining the life and times of the serial killer, drug smuggler, and some times psychic, Adolfo Constanzo. The Cuban-American Constanzo founded a cult in Mexico in the mid-1980s that quickly attracted Mexican celebrities, drug smugglers and even police officers. By the late 1980s Constanzo had thrown in with the Hernandez drug cartel of Matamoros, where human sacrifice became a regular feature of Constanzo's cult. Interestingly, one of Constanzo's chief recruiting tools for his blood cult was apparently the 1987 horror film The Believers, starring Martin Sheen.
"...gang members told police that they were initiated into the religious ways of the cult through repeated viewings of the movie, The Believers.

"Young Serafin Hernandez Garcia told authorities it was his favorite film.

"There were startling similarities between Constanzo's gang and the evil cult portrayed in The Believers. Most significantly, both groups practiced human sacrifice to attain protection and power from the gods...

"Many video stores along the border said they could barely keep the film in stock once its cult connection was announced. 'You'd think it was a new release, but it came out three years ago,' said one dismayed video store employee...

"Not all video stores joined in the bonanza, however. Once word was out, a leading Texas chain store removed The Believers from the shelves of their video section. Officials said the move was made because the company felt it wasn't right to profit from the nauseating slaughter in Matamoros..."
(Hell Ranch, Clifford L. Linedecker, pgs. 95-96)

The obsession Constanzo's cult had with The Believers is very interesting. While not immensely popular during its initial release it is now considered something of a forgotten classic. The film concerns a police psychiatrist (Sheen) who becomes involved in a series of child murders occurring in New York City. The children are killed in a highly ritualistic fashion and it is soon revealed that a cult with high society connections (including ties to the police) is behind the killings.

More and more I can't help but feel that this film is significant on several levels beyond its connection to the Constanzo cult. In a truly creepy synch, one of the cult leaders is also the head of a prominent children's charity which seemingly is used to recruit victims for the cult's sacrifices. I couldn't help but being reminded of Jerry Sandusky and the whole Penn State sex scandal upon rewatching this film recently. The film's star, Martin Sheen, was in another film, Apocolypse Now, which I attach great esoteric significance too. I've written on it before here.

Sheen in Apocalypse Now

Even more significantly, The Believers was written my Mark Frost, who would go on to create the legendary TV series Twin Peaks with maverick filmmaker David Lynch. Regular readers of this blog know that I consider Twin Peaks one of the finest accounts of magick to ever be released. I've written heavily on the TV series here, the viewing of which I compared to an initiation into an occult society. Previously I had credited Lynch with much of the esoterica that made its way into Peaks but in light of Frost's work on The Believers I may have to revise my opinion a bit. Frost's script demonstrates both an accurate depiction of occult rites in addition to compelling links between the occult and high society.

Mark Frost

Were these VIP links part of the appeal the film had amongst Constanzo's followers? And what of the occult sacrifices of children which have darkly dogged the Constanzo cult since their saga began to break in the newspapers? Perhaps the highly realistic depictions of Afro-Carribean religious practices were the sole appeal, as mainstream sources have contended. Whatever the case, there is clearly more to the Constanzo cult than even the tabloids would acknowledge. For the rest of this piece I shall examine some of the more curious aspects the Constanzo cult.

We will start with Constanzo's religion. He is in many instances in the blogosphere (and even by researchers such as David McGowan and Michael Newton) described as a Satanists. His mother and other family members have sworn up and down that Constanzo was nothing but a good Catholic boy. Many have claimed that he practiced Santeria.
"Santeria in its present form was first practiced around 2500 B.C. in what is now known as Nigeria, on the banks of expansive Niger River. It was then that Yoruba tribesmen first developed the nature religion that allowed mortals to approach the gods through worship of natural objects such as shells, feathers, and herbs.

"Santeria -Spanish for 'worship of saints' -spread to the New World in the 1500s when slaves brought captured black Africans to the Southern United States, and the Caribbean as an inexpensive source of manual labor.

"The Africans had no choice but to work for their new masters, but they didn't really abandon their old gods. Ordered to adopt the white man's religion, many of them outwardly complied and, to their masters, seemed to have adopted Catholicism and its saints. But among themselves, the slaves learned to identify each of the saints with one of their own African gods. So when they were seen by owners apparently praying to a small clay image of Saint Lazarus, for instance, they may instead have been petitioning the ancient Yoruba god and patron of the sick, Babalu-'Aye'. Or is they were kneeling before an image of Christ on the cross, they may have been seeking communion with Oloru'n-Orofi, the Creator Himself.

"The clandestine Santeria ceremonies helped homesick and frightened slaves maintain a strong bond with an Africa thousands of miles away. Gradually, the religion based on old Yoruba beliefs, with a strong meld of Catholicism, spread through the islands, Central and South America. The religion flourished in the New World, and although it maintained many of its secret ways, it gradually moved into the open; today it is widely practiced alongside Catholicism in the islands and in Latin America. Santeria established an especially strong foothold in Cuba and in Brazil, where, in slightly different form, it is known as Macumba, or Umbanda. And increasingly, worship of the old Yoruba gods has moved onto mainland North America and is growing in popularity among Hispanics, blacks, and Anglos.

"Practitioners of Santeria, called Santeros, worship a bewildering array of deities, called Orishas, who are represented in their dual role as Catholic saints and ancient African gods. They can be summoned for help during times of need or crisis. Santeros maintain that the orishas are extremely powerful, and each control specific aspects of life, such as purity,  employment, health -and death."
(Hell Ranch, Clifford L. Linedecker, pgs. 91-92)

Palo Mayombe is the other chief religion Constanzo is thought to have practiced. It is generally described as the dark side of Santeria.
"Described by experts as an evil black-magic flip side of Santeria, Palo Mayombe is a religion who disciples call for help from Catholic saints, ancient African spirit gods and the tortured souls of the enslaved dead. It has its roots in the impenetrable jungles of the African Congo, and like Santeria, its practice was melded with Catholicism by slaves after reaching the New World.

"Some santeros keep two altars in their house -one for Santeria and one for Palo Mayombe. Their approach to natural magic is similar, but there are vast differences between the two beliefs. Santeria reputedly offers its gods the blood of animal sacrifices killed quickly and humanely, while the animal and human sacrifices offered during some Palo Mayombe rituals are deliberately tortured and horribly mutilated, Pain and fear are powerful elements of the rites.

"Sometimes the blood of the sacrificial victim is consumed by participants in ceremonies, acts occasionally followed by other vile forms of necrophilia and cannibalism. Parts of victims are boiled in black n'gangas -similar to the crimson-tinged cauldrons found in the ceremonial hut on the Santa Elena Ranch. Palo Mayombe cultists believe that the spirits of the victims will become trapped in the cauldrons and enslaved, to be called on for protection or to carry out evil. Some Palo Mayombe practitioners prefer that brain tissue be left in skulls used in the obscene acts of necromancy so that the agonized spirits they have summoned can think and act more intelligently."
(ibid, pgs. 96-97)

Constanzo also seemingly added aspects of Mexican folk magic and rituals of the Aztecs to his belief system. Many of his victims were found with their hearts ritualistically removed in a fashion similar to how the Aztecs were thought to remove them, for instance. Is it also possible that the Sirius/Sothis religion that I've chronicled before here and here also influenced Constanzo's belief system?

Probably the two chief advocates of the so-called Sirius tradition are Robert K.G. Temple, an Oriental Studies and Sanskrit major from the University of Pennsylvania and fellow the Royal Astronomical Society, and Kenneth Grant, the former head of the Typhonian Order and Aleister Crowley disciple. Unlikely bedfellows indeed, yet both presented compelling theories of a cult whose belief system revolved around the star Sirius and that has existed in some form or other since at least ancient Sumeria. Temple built his theory off of the traditions of the Dogon people while Grant's was based upon the occult traditions Crowley taught him. Both theories held Africa to be a kind of repository of occult traditions.


I'll allow the great Robert Anton Wilson to sum up Temple's theory:
"Temple claimed  that Earth had been visited by an advanced race from a planet in the system of the double star, Sirius, around 4500 B.C. Temple based this assertion on the fact that definite and specific knowledge of the Sirius system can be found in the mythology of the Babylonians, the Egyptians, and some surviving African tribes -knowledge which modern astronomy  has only rediscovered with the fantastically delicate instruments of the last two decades...

"...Temple's evidence... could be interpreted to indicate the arrival of people from Sirius who had come here in a physical space ship around 4500 B.C. According to Temple, information about this had been passed on through various initiatory orders in the ancient Mediterranean and in Africa to the present time..."
(The Cosmic Trigger, pg. 9-10)
Much of Crowley's occult system revolved around his encounter with a being he dubbed Aiwaz, a being he closely associated with Sirius. He believed that others had been contacted by Aiwaz over the centuries and thus the traditions of Sirius had spread through out the world via the worship of Aiwaz.
"In ancient Egypt, the first anthropomorphic representation to succeed the long procession of zoomorphic deities, was that of Besz, or Vesz, the dwarf god. Albert Churchward notes that 'up to the time of Ptah, or Besz, the human likeness was not given to any god or goddess, and Atum-Horus, or Amen, the son of Ptah, is the earliest divinity in perfect human form.'

"The representation of Besz, based upon the anatomical peculiarities of a pygmy race of Nilotic origin, is the first effort ever made by man to mould his god in his own image, thus supporting the overwhelming evidence that the human race emerged from lower forms of life in the equatorial regions of Africa. Upon later fanning out, the race gradually swarmed northward along the Nile valley and thence to Mesopotamia where the first colony was founded. This was Sumer, and the dwarf god, Besz, Vesz, or Vass, was probably the original for of Ai-wass; Besz, or Betch, equates with Bitch. Bast, Bastard and Beast."
(The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant, pg. 57)


I've speculated that the ancient goddess cults revolved around Sirius worship before here. Santeria and Palo Mayombe, the two belief systems of which the bulk of Constanzo's magical practices were based around, both derived from Africa and both were very ancient belief systems. Is it possible that parts of the Sirius tradition were incorporated into these belief systems long ago? I do not know enough about either religion to answer definitively either way to that question. However, I have chronicled the overlap between Freemasonry and Haitian Vodou before here, so perhaps there are ties between Santeria and Palo Mayombe and even more ancient occult traditions. It may even be that Santeria and Palo Mayombe represent the Sirius tradition in its rawest incarnation.

As I noted in part IV of this series, the first major ritual slaying attributed to the Constanzo cult was the killing of the Calzada family, one of the prime drug cartels in Mexico at the time. Constanzo sacrificed several prominent members on Walpurgis Night, one of the chief holidays in northern and central European paganism. Is this further evidence that a more ancient occult tradition, possibly one tied to Sirius, influenced Constanzo's cult? This is the only overt evidence that I've found linking Constanzo's practices to European occultism, but I can't help but feel there are much deeper connections.

Walpurgis Night

As to the Constanzo cult itself, it was a strikingly American institution, especially in the higher levels. Of course there was the Miami-born Constanzo himself, as well as several other key followers that hailed from the U.S.
"Though downplayed in most press reports, the Matamoros cult was largely an American entity. Its leader was Adolfo Constanzo, a Cuban-American born in Miami, Florida and raised in Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Its 'high priestess' was Sara Aldrete, an honor student at Southmost, Texas College in Brownsville. One of the cult's top lieutenants, Serafin Hernandez Garcia, also lived in Brownsville and attended Southmost -as a law enforcement major. Serafin's grandfather was the owner of Rancho Santa Elena, where the cult performed its ritual sacrifices and buried many of its victims. Another cult member, drug baron Elio Hernandez Riveria, also hailed from Brownsville. Yet another lived in Weslaco, Texas."
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pgs. 88-89)
I can't help but be reminded of the Peoples Temple and Jonestown when considering the perception of Constanzo's cult. While they are generally regarded as an Mexican entity in many accounts of the cult, their genesis and leadership was clearly from north of the border. The Peoples Temple was dominated by African-Americans yet the hierarchy was predominately white. The tragedy that was Jonestown unfolded in Guyana, South America, yet it was a tragedy largely involving Americans.

Many of the cult members displayed bizarre, detached behavior. In many cases they were described as emotionless -robotic, even. This was especially true of Elio Hernandez and other cult members who were arrested in the initial wave around Rancho Santa Elena.
"...None of the gang members seemed the least bit concerned. It was the damnedest thing, as if they had been arrested for a traffic ticket. Elio had actually laughed at his interrogators. 'You can't keep me here,' he had declared with complete conviction. 'Soon, I'll be gone.'

" 'They weren't worried at all,' Benitez recalled later. 'They thought we couldn't hurt them. They though they were protected.'

"It took a while to convince them otherwise."
(Buried Secrets, pgs. 30-31)
One of the most vicious of the Matamoros cultists, 'Little' Serafin Hernandez Garcia, was especially unnerving to the police.
"The interrogation of Little Serafin took five hours. As they listened, the agents sometimes crossed themselves. Some of them had wondered why their superstitious commandante kept strings of garlic, religious candles, amulets, and other charms of good luck in his office. Now they were glad to have them as they listened to young Hernandez's tale unfold.

"They had heard of black magic all their lives. Now they were seeing it work:

"A man with no soul.

"And Little Serafin did seem cold, without feeling, without any idea that what he had done was morally monstrous."
(ibid, pgs. 34-35)
In the case of Sara Aldrete, there was even evidence of a split personality.
"But investigators with the Mexico City attorney's office were unsure how to take Sara's confession because the accused 'godmother' of the cult had begun to show disturbing signs of a split personality. As the days wore on, three separate personas became evident -one for the police, one for the television cameras and a third that emerged when she talked to herself.

"U.S. Customs Service Agent Oran Neck told a reporter with the Houston Chronicle just days after Sara's arrest that she had lost touch with reality. He said that she was demonstrating a dual personality..."
(Hell Ranch, Clifford L. Linedecker, pg. 142)

Sara Aldrete

Like both Charles Manson and Jim Jones before him, Constanzo used sex as a key tool in controlling members. As I noted in part four of this series, Constanzo's primary objective in seducing Sara Aldrete was seemingly to gain control over Elio Hernandez, who had been obsessed over Aldrete for some time before either met Constanzo. Later on he forced Aldrete to have sexual relations with Hernandez to ensure the latter's loyalty to the cult. In general, Constanzo seems to have only sought out sexual relations with women when there was some benefit to his cult to be had. Control was also a big factor in his relations with men.
"He flew First Class, drove Lincoln continentals, gold Mercedes and sports cars, and wore diamond, sapphire, and ruby rings on every finger of both hands and gold necklaces around his neck. He purchased expensive jewelry and clothes for his lovers from the best stores, and twice in Brownsville he bought the same boyfriend $10,000 worth of elegant clothing in shopping sprees. He took them on trips to famous vacation resorts at Acapulco and Las Hadas. He wrote them poetry and love letters, filled with passionate promises of unending fidelity, then in a few months discarded them for new lovers. He was a social butterfly, and he was always the dominate member in his romantic relationships just as he was in business matters. Even after breakups, his cast off lovers remained mesmerized by his charm and charisma. And gradually he put together a following of lovers, ex-lovers and other privileged middle or upper-class young men who were personally devoted to him as they were to acquiring riches from the lucrative drug trade."
(ibid, pg. 28)
Its interesting that Constanzo, like both Manson and Jones, always assumed the dominate position in intercourse with men. All three seemed to have used sex with other men as a means of humiliating them and cementing control over them. Constanzo was also found of sodomizing his male victims before sacrificing them. Dominance and manipulation were the driving factors in virtually all of his sexual relations.

I've found no evidence that Constanzo was engaged in pedophilia, but it would not be out of character. Constanzo became sexually active in Miami's gay community when still a teenager and may have engaged in sex relations with much older men then. Later on, in Mexico, he seems to have primarily have sought very young men for lovers. Omar Orea, Constanzo's 'wife,' was barely 18 when he was seduced by Constanzo.

Omar (left) and Constanzo

In general, Constanzo's ties to children (or lack therefore of) have drawn much speculation. Perhaps most disturbing of all the accusations against the cult were those of child sacrifice.
"As the investigation proceeded, reports on the case grew more disturbing. Police reported finding blood-spattered altars in the homes of many of the suspected cultists, and Mexico City newspapers openly speculated that human infants had been ritually sacrificed by the group. Some reporters opined that babies might even have been bred specifically for that purpose. Michael Newton has reported that from 1987-1989, there were seventy-four unsolved ritual homicides in Mexico City; fourteen of those victims were infants."
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pg. 91)
I'll remind the reader that various members of Constanzo's cult were obsessed with The Believers, a horror film revolving around a blood cult active in New York City. The plot revolves around a series of child sacrifices that the cult engages in to secure prosperity. Did Constanzo's followers possibly engage in similar rites to secure their lucrative drug trade? We shall likely never no.

And here I shall wrap things up for now. In next week's installment I shall finish up on Constanzo with several more mysterious ties between the Godfather of Matamoros and Charles Manson and Jim Jones. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Latin American High Weirdness: The Cults IV

A lot of shady things have gone down in Latin America since the end of the second World War. Of course there are the drugs, the political instabilities and the occasional dictatorship, which the Western media frequently dotes upon. But there has been an even more mysterious undercurrent, one that includes the occult, occult-centric UFO encounters, Nazi war criminals, a whole slew of cults, and of course drugs. among other things. It is a strange current, to say the least. I've covered the UFOs before here, here, and here. Those posts also touch on the Nazis and drugs briefly, as well as a cult centered around the notorious UMMO affair. I touched on the Nazis a bit more on a post concerning the notorious Colonia Dignidad. That was part one of our current series. In part two I addressed the infamous Jim Jones and the mass suicides at Jonestown. In part three I examined the similarities between Colonia Dignidad, Jonestown and various other cults such as the Manson Family (of whom I've written on here and here) and the one that sprang up in Matamoros, Mexico in the late 1980s. For part four, we shall further explore the Matamoros cult that was led by a charismatic individual known as Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo.


The saga of Constanzo was eventually turned into a low budget slasher film called Borderland. This is one of the few cases where the Hollywood depiction was actually tame compared to the real life bloodbath Constanzo left in his wake. Constanzo, a Cuban-American hailing from Miami, would relocate to Mexico in 1984. By 1989 he had built a modest, but ever-growing, drug ring that was centered around the Afro-Caribbean cult practices of Santeria and Palo Mayombe. The cult would include several Mexican celebrities in addition to both fellow drug smugglers as well as several high ranking Mexican police (who were instrumental in the rise of Constanzo). Sacrifice was central to Constanzo's cult -both animal as well as human.

a Santeria ritual

Constanzo was initiated into both the occult and the criminal underworld at a young age. His first teacher was his mother, who was a practitioner of Santeria.
"... Delia Aurora Gonzalez dal Vallee was the idea mother.

"She showed him the way.

"Adolfo Constanzo's earliest childhood memory was not of a favorite toy or a parent's smile, but the gurgling death rattle of a chicken's slit throat, its blood offered up to the ancient African gods. He knew a home filled with decay and blood, inuring him to death. His reward for good behavior was the gift of an animal to mutilate or kill...

"There was the power that shedding blood brought, the essence of Santeria. Give blood to the gods, and they will answer your prayers.

"There was the daily embrace of death and decay inside Delia's filthy and bloodstained home, the basis of Palo Mayombe's magic. Above all, a palero must relish the stench of decomposing flesh, for he must take the evil spirits of the dead inside him, becoming possessed by them."
(Buried Secrets, Edward Humes, pgs. 65-66) 


In addition to being a follower of Santeria, Delia was also quite a frequent small time criminal.
"Mommy was a habitual criminal, with a dozen aliases, innumerable addresses, and no legitimate source of income. She had been convicted of grand theft, writing hot checks, and child neglect, and she has been arrested for criminal trespass, armed assault, and shoplifting (with her daughter, fifteen years old at the time, as an accomplice). Despite her lengthy record, Delia's plethora of aliases, married names, and changing addresses has so confused the court record that she has been treated repeatedly as a first-time offender, then let loose from jail even though arrest warrants on her were outstanding...
"Her pattern of crime stretches across more than ten years and thirty separate court cases, showing how she and her children would let the eviction notices and  unpaid rent bills pile up, then suddenly and quietly leave with their former homes in shambles. Then they would do it again. And again. They would change the locks and the landlords would come to the door and pound and pound. Delia would never answer, never leave until she was just one step ahead of the handcuffs."
(ibid, pg.s 69-70)
Delia saw to it that Adolfo was initiated into high levels of occult practices at a young age, in addition to making ever valuable contacts in the drug trade.
"Adolfo's mother had introduced him to the santeria cult around age nine, with side trips from Puerto Rico to Haiti for instruction in voodoo, but there were still more secrets to be learned, and in 1976 he was apprenticed to a practitioner of palo mayombe. His occult 'godfather' was already rich from working with local drug dealers, and he imparted a philosophy that would follow Adolfo to his grave: 'Let the nonbelievers kill themselves with drugs. We will profit from their foolishness.' "
(Raising Hell, Michael Newton, pg. 105)

a Palo Mayombe shrine, which Adolfo's Haitian padrino would have taught him how to make

Of this godfather, Edward Humes writes:
"Constanzo's Haitian padrino was such a man. He was not interested in love spells or acts of benevolence, only in spilling blood and taking life. He passed that bloodlust on to his young apprentice, dispensing lessons, beatings, and exposure to the macabre in equal measures until nothing had an effect on him. Adolfo took the beatings as if they were a part of growing up; he met the horror with a child's eagerness."
(Buried Secrets, pg. 56)
There's no evidence that pedophilia was a part of the 'lessons' Constanzo's godfather passed on to him, but Constanzo would seemingly embrace his homosexuality shortly after coming into contact with the old Haitian padrino.
"He was still a teenager when he began frequenting homosexual hangouts in Miami and nearby Fort Lauderdale. His handsome square face, penetrating brown eyes, thick shock of red tinted hair and solid youthful body commanded immediate attention when he sauntered into the pickup bars. He had no difficulty attracting lovers for one-night stands, or longer romances of a month or more."
(Hell Ranch, Clifford L. Linedecker, pg. 21)
Some of the darkest speculation surrounding the Matamoros cult was its possible use of children. Rumors of child sacrifice came up in conjunction with the cult from time to time. In addition to his bizarre sex life Constanzo was known to sexually abuse his victims before killing them, so pedophilia doesn't seem to be out of the question. The possibility of child sacrifice in addition to Constanzo's sexuality will be talked about in greater depth in a later installment. For now, I'll wrap up this biographical sketch.

In 1984 Constanzo moved to Mexico City full time after shuttling back and forth between there and Miami for about a year. His star immediately began to rise.
"By mid-1984, Adolfo had moved to Mexico City, where he served as something of a 'psychic to the stars,' earning extravagant fees and living quite lavishly. His fastidiously neat and orderly home in a high-dollar suburb of Mexico's capital was, interestingly enough, located directly across an elementary school. Described as having a magnetic personality, Constanzo attracted an array of famous and colorful people -including entertainment stars, fashion models, transsexual nightclub performers, politicians, businessmen, crime lords, police officials and civil servants."
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pg. 89)
A year before Constanzo moved to Mexico City full time he had already been laying the ground work for his cult by seducing several men who would become key followers.
"A modeling assignment took the handsome young sorcerer to Mexico City in 1983, and he spent his free time telling fortunes with tarot cards in the city's infamous 'Zona Rosa.' Before returning to Miami, Adolfo collected his first Mexican disciples, including Martin Quintana, homosexual 'psychic' Jorge Montes, and Omar Orea, obsessed with the occult from age fifteen. In short order, Constanzo seduced both Rodriquez and Orea, claiming one as his 'man' and the other as his 'woman,' depending on Adolfo's romantic whim."
(Raising Hell, Michael Newton, pg. 105)

Constanzo's 'husband,' Martin Quintana (top), and Constanzo with his wife, Omar Orea (bottom)

In addition to homosexuals and drug dealers, Constanzo's cult was apparently quite appealing to Mexican law enforcement.
"At first glance, the most peculiar aspect of Constanzo's new career was the appeal he seemed to have for ranking law-enforcement officers. At least four members of the Federal Judicial Police joined Constanzo's cult in Mexico City: one of them, Salvador Garcia, was a commander in charge of narcotics investigations; another, Florentino Ventura, retired from the federales to lead the Mexican branch of Interpol. In a country where bribery -mordida -permeates all levels of law enforcement and federal officers sometimes serve as triggermen for drug smugglers, corruption is not unusual, but the devotion of Constanzo's followers ran deeper than cash on the line. In or out of uniform, they worshipped Adolfo as a minor god in his own right, their living conduit to the spirit world."
(ibid, pg. 106)
It was in fact the Mexican police who paved the way for Constanzo's entrance into the lucrative world of drug trafficking.
"In 1986, Florentino Ventura introduced Constanzo to the drug-dealing Calzada family, then one of Mexico's dominant narcotics cartels. Constanzo won the hard-nosed dealers over with his charm and mumbo jumbo, profiting immensely from his contacts with the gang. By early 1987, he was able to pay $60,000 cash for a condominium in Mexico City, buying himself a fleet of luxury cars that included an $80,000 Mercedes Benz. When not working magic for the Calzadas or other clients, Adolfo staged scams of his own, once posing as a DEA agent to rip off a coke dealer in Guadalajara, selling the stash through his police contacts for a cool $100,000."
(ibid, pg. 106-107)
The Interpol man, Florentino Ventura, will be very important a bit later on, so keep him in mind. As for the Calzada family, their association with Constanzo did not end well. Eventually Adolfo came to believe that his magic was the reason for their success. He demanded that the Calzada family split their drug profits with him 50-50. The cartel of course refused, which proved to be a fatal mistake.
"On April 30, Guillermo Calzada and six members of his household vanished under mysterious circumstances. They were reported missing on May 1, police noting melted candles and other evidence of a strange religious ceremony at Calzada's office. Six more days elapsed before the officers began fishing mutilated remains from the Zumpango River. Seven corpses were recovered in the course of a week, all bearing signs of sadistic torture -fingers, toes, and ears removed, hearts and sex organs excised, part of the spine ripped from one body, two others missing brains.

"The vanished parts, as it turned out, had gone to feed Constanzo's cauldron of blood, building up his strength for greater conquests yet to come."
(ibid, pg. 107)
It's interesting to note that the Calzada family was wiped out by Constanzo on Walpurgis Night, one of the chief holidays in northern and central European paganism. Walpurgis Night occurs exactly six months after Halloween.
"In Central Europe it was apparently on Walpurgis Night, the Eve of May Day, above all other times that the baleful powers of the witches were exerted to the fullest extent; nothing therefore could be more natural than that men should be on guard against them at that season, and that, not content with merely standing on their defense, they should boldly have sought to carry the war into the enemy's quarters by attacking and forcibly expelling the uncanny crew."
(The Golden Bough, James Frazer, pgs. 574-575)

Incidentally (or not), Constanzo often referred to himself as a brujo, a witch. Alas, the Calzadas were apparently not big readers of Sir Frazer. As for Constanzo, he quickly moved on (with more help from the Mexican police) and found another drug cartel that was willing to split the profits in exchange for his magical protection. In this case Salvador Garcia, a Federal Judicial Police agent, was the conduit for Constanzo's drug trafficking.
"In July 1987, Salvador Garcia introduced Constanzo to another drug-running family, this one led by brothers Elio and Ovidio Hernandez. At the end of that month, in Matamoros, Constanzo also met twenty-two-year-old Sara Aldrete, a Mexican national with resident alien status in the United States, where she attended college in Brownsville, Texas. Adolfo charmed Sara with his line of patter, noting with arch significance that her birthday -Septemember 6 -was the same as his mother's. Sara was dating Brownsville drug smuggler Gilberto Sosa, at the time, but she was soon wound up in Constanzo's bed, Adolfo scuttling the old relationship with an anonymous call to Sosa, revealing Sara's infidelity. With nowhere else to turn, Sara plunged full tilt into Constanzo's world, emerging as the madrina -godmother or 'head witch' -of his cult, adding her own twists to the torture of sacrificial victims."
(Raising Hell, Michael Newton, pgs. 107-108)

Elio Hernandez (top) and Sara Aldrete (bottom)

It also helped that Elio Hernandez was obsessed with Sara Aldrete, a fact Constanzo was aware of before he even met Aldrete. While Salvador Garcia recommended the Hernandez cartel to Constanzo in addition to supplying him with mounds of intelligence on them, it was actually Aldrete who introduced Constanzo to Elio. Constanzo was aware of Elio's obsession with Aldrete before he even met and seduced to her. In acquiring control of the Hernandez cartel Aldrete was one of the chief tools Constanzo employed. Later on her forced Aldrete to have sexual relations with Elio to ensure the head Hernandez brother's loyalty.

While Aldrete was the head female member of Constanzo's cult, her power was seemingly less than what the media and many researchers have proclaimed over the years. Both of the two accounts I've read on the Constanzo cult, Hell Ranch by Clifford L. Linedecker and Buried Secrets by Edward Humes, indicate that Martin Quintana and Omar Orea were Constanzo's right and left hand, respectively. Aldrete's primary function to Constanzo seemingly was as a means of influence over Elio Hernandez.

Shortly after joining the Hernandez gang human sacrifice became a common feature of Constanzo's cult, of which the bulk of the Hernandez clan joined. Everyone was game from rival drug dealers, police, local farmers, and, eventually, American tourists. The sacrifices went into overdrive when Constanzo was able to set up a temple at the Rancho Santa Elena, an isolated ranch near the Texas border owned by the Hernandez clan and used for storing drugs. Here at least 15 individuals met their deaths typically after being raped and tortured by Constanzo, who claimed that the more his victims screamed, the more pleasing the sacrifice was to his gods. The most noted victim of the Rancho Santa Elena was an American spring-breaker, the 21-year-old Mark Kilroy, who was abducted in Matamoros in 1989 and taken to the ranch. Kilroy's disappearance became big news in the American media (in no small part due to the fact that Kilroy's affluent family included a father who was a chemical engineer and an uncle who was a U.S. Customs supervisor in Los Angeles), but had little to do with the downfall of the Hernandez cartel.
"A popular premed student from Texas, Mark Kilroy was not some peasant, transvestite, or small-time pusher who could disappear without a trace or an investigation into his fate. With family members and Texas politicians turning up the heat, the search for Kilroy rapidly assumed the trappings of an international incident... but it would be Constanzo's own disciples who destroyed him in the end...

"On April 9, returning from Brownsville, Texas, meeting with Constanzo, cultist Serafin Hernandez drove past a police roadblock without stopping, ignoring the cars that set off in hot pursuit. Hernandez believed el padrino's line about invisiblity, and he seemed surprised when officers trailed him to his destination in Matamoros. Even so, the smuggler was arrogant, inviting police to shoot him, since the bullets would merely bounce off.

"They arrested him instead, along with cult member David Martinez, and drove the pair back to Rancho Santa Elena where a preliminary search turned up marijuana and firearms. Disciples Elio Hernandez and Sergio Martinez stumbled into the net while police were on hnd, and all four were interrogated through the evening, revealing their tales of black magic, torture, and human sacrifice with a perverse kind of pride."
(ibid, pgs. 109-110)

Mark Kilroy

Needless to say, curious discoveries awaited the police when they next returned to Rancho Santa Elena.
"The Matamoros cult was first exposed in early April 1989. Police searching the ranch on April discovered  drugs and occult paraphernalia. Returning on April  9, authorities arrested four members of the cult, all of who were members of the Hernandez drug family. Two days later, the first bodies were exhumed from Rancho Santa Elena. Some of the victims had been beheaded, while other had been grotesquely disfigured by machete blows to the head. Brains, hearts, lungs and other internal organs had been cut or torn from many of the bodies, and some of these were found stewing in cauldrons in a shed at the ranch. Spines had been ripped from the decomposing corpses to fashion ceremonial necklaces. One victim was reportedly boiled alive, anothere searching the ranch on April discovered  drugs and occult paraphernalia. Returning on April  9, authorities arrested four members of the cult, all of who were members of the Hernandez drug family. Two days later, the first bodies were exhumed from Rancho Santa Elena. Some of the victims had been beheaded, while other had been grotesquely disfigured by machete blows to the head. Brains, hearts, lungs and other internal organs had been cut or torn from many of the bodies, and some of these were found stewing in cauldrons in a shed at the ranch. Spines had been ripped from the decomposing corpses to fashion ceremonial necklaces. One victim was reportedly boiled alive, another skinned alive; all were mutilated to varying degrees.

"These victims included the owner and secretary of a company that served as a front for a cocaine-processing lab, an informant for the Federales and his mistress, two federal narcotics officers, three former police officers, and the American nephew of a U.S. Customs agent..."
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pgs. 89-90)

objects found at Rancho Santa Elena

This triggered the beginning of a massive manhunt in both the United States and Mexico for Constanzo and the remaining members of his cult. U.S. authorities seemingly did everything in their power to sabotage the investigation. At one point a U.S. Customs agent announced to the press a tip the DEA had received that Constanzo was headed back to Miami. This seemingly had been Constanzo's plan, but he quickly scrapped it when the news broke. This was characteristic of U.S. authorities during Constanzo manhunt.
"Although the daily press never caught wind of it -preoccupied as it was with revelations of mass murder and mutilation -the task force hunting the killers was shattered within ten days of its formation. Chances to capture Constanzo in Miami and Malio in Brownsville had been squandered. The U.S. end of the cult investigation crumbled in disarray and the investigators ended up stabbing one another in the back..."
(Buried Secrets, Edward Humes, pg. 290)
The Mexican police did not fair much better. They stumbled onto the Matamoros cult by accident and they essentially brought Constanzo down by accident.
"... On May 6, police searching for a missing child are said to have inadvertently stumbled upon the apartment hideaway of Constanzo and four of his followers in Mexico City. Shots were allegedly fired from the apartment, which resulted in nearly 200 police officers virtually instantaneously surrounding the building.

"A ferocious gun battle ensued, with thousands of rounds fired in a forty-five minute exchange. Amazingly though, none of the cultists were shot and only one officer was wounded -and that was in the initial gunfire that came from the apartment. Constanzo and his male lover were reportedly executed in a closet on the orders of the high priest himself. The three survivors were captured alive and charged with a multitude of crimes. Reports immediately surfaced claiming that Constanzo had faked his death, by substituting the body of another cultist. The two bodies in the closet had been riddled with automatic weapon fire, making identification difficult. Mexico City newspapers carried reports of witnesses claiming that two men had been seen fleeing the scene of the shoot-out. The body identified as Constanzo's was claimed by U.S. consular officials -allegedly acting on behalf of Constanzo's mother -and flown to Miami to be promptly cremated."
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pgs. 90-91)

the bodies of Constanzo and his 'husband,' Martin Quintana
 The cult member who died with Constanzo was Martin Quintana, Constanzo's 'husband.' Two of three surviving cult members of the Mexico City shootout were Sara Aldrete (who claimed she was being held hostage by Constanzo at this point) and Constanzo's male 'wife,' Omar Orea. Orea would go on to die of AIDS during his trial while Aldrete is presumably still roting away in some Mexican prison somewhere.

And that is generally where the Constanzo saga ends. Many are happy with this as they prefer a neat ending to such bizarre and horrific events. But there was nothing neat about Constanzo's cult or the ending (or lack therefore of). In fact, we've only begun to scratch the surface of the high strangeness surrounding Aldofo Constanzo. In part five of this series I'll discuss more of that strangeness as well as where Constanzo fits into the grand scheme of things. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A New Freedom Part II

In part one of this series we examined the morals, or lack therefore of, of Colonial-era Americans. To recap: 'loose' sexuality, to say nothing of prostitution, homosexuality and interracial marriage, were not nearly as taboo as they would be in later eras while drinking was the definitive American past time. Staggering amounts of booze were consumed by seemingly every man and woman over the age of 15 on a daily basis. The Boston Tea Party itself was plotted in a tavern (/Masonic lodge). Surely the Revolutionary generation would be a bit perplexed by a modern American society in which the enactment of 40,000 new laws has become the new norm. What then brought us to this sorry state of affairs? Put simply, democracy.

"The men who created the United States were truly revolutionaries: they revolutionized the concept of freedom.

"The Founding Fathers were part of a transatlantic movement in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to replace external controls over subjects in absolutist regimes with the internal restraints of citizens in republics. This movement began what is now called the Modern Age. The modernist movement required not just the overthrow of monarchs but also the repression of what was called 'man's animal passions.' The problem with the discipline of the gallows, the lash, and the sword, according to these revolutionaries, was that it was far less effective than individual self-discipline in keeping social order. Even though peasants, slaves, and the colonial subjects we have seen in taverns and bawdy houses held no formal political power, they were, according to this view, actually too free because they had no reason to control themselves. So the Founding Fathers redefined freedom as self-control and built a political system around it called democracy.

"To solve the lack of order they saw all around them, the fathers seized on one of the great -and often missed -ironies in world history: the only thing that could make men forsake their own freedom and still believe they were free was self-rule. A government of the people, John Adams argued, would make the people disciplined, stern, hard working, and joyless -the qualities he most admired. It would 'produce Strength, Hardiness Activity, Courage, Fortitude, and Enterprise; the manly noble and Sublime Qualities in human Nature, in Abundance.' A monarchy, on the other hand, would let them have too much fun and, paradoxically, allow them too much liberty. It 'would produce so much Taste and Politeness, so much Elegance in Dress, Furniture, Equipage, so much Musick and Dancing, so much Fencing and Skaiting, so much Cards and Backgammon, so much Horse Racing and Cockkfighting, so many Balls and Assemblies, so many Plays and Concerts that the very imagination of them makes me feel vain, light, frivolous, and insignificant.' Adams understood that democracy forced the people to shed their pleasures and surrender their personal freedom, because they alone would shoulder the responsibility of managing society. 'under a well-regulated Commonwealth, the People must be wise virtuous and cannot be otherwise. Under a Monarchy they may be as vicious and foolish as they please, nay, they cannot but be vicious and foolish... [T]here is one Difficulty which I know not how to get over. Virtue and Simplicity of Manners are indispensably necessary in a Republic among all orders and Degrees of Men. But there is so much Rascallity, so much Venality and Corruption, so much Avarice and Ambition such a Rage for Profit and Commerce among all Ranks and Degrees of Men even in America, that I sometimes doubt wether there is public Virtue enough to Support a Republic.' The Founding Fathers understood what we now choose to ignore" democracy is the enemy of personal freedom...

"During what we call the American Revolution, a second American revolution too place: a counterrevolution against the pleasure culture of the cities. Personal freedom and sensual pleasure came under attack during the democratic revolution not because the revolutionaries were puritans but because democracy is puritanical.

"We normally think of democracy as a system of rights and freedoms: voting, speaking freely, equal treatment under the law, and so forth. But true democracy, the kind of democracy that the Founding Fathers wanted, is much more than that. John Locke, the man who, in the English world, helped invent the notion that he people should rule and who inspired all of the American democratic revolutionaries, made this brutally clear. 'It seems plain to me,' he wrote in Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), 'that the principle of all virtue and excellency lies in a power of denying ourselves the satisfaction of our own desire, where reason does not authorize them.' Locke knew that managing society is a big job requiring enormous discipline. If the people were to do it, then the people would have to renounce their personal freedom. Most importantly, they would have to be taught to feel shame for their selfish desires. 'Esteem and disgrace are, of all others, the most powerful incentives to them ind, when once it is brought to relish them,' Locke wrote. 'If you can once get into children a love of credit, and an apprehension of shame and disgrace, you have put into 'em the true principle, which will constantly work and incline them to the right.' The kind of punishment used by monarchs and slave owners to keep the people orderly and productive -whipping, flogging, executions, and the like -only 'patches up for the present, and skins it over, but reaches not to the bottom of the sore; ingenuous shame, and the apprehensions of displeasure, are the only true restraint. These alone ought to hold the reins, and keep the child in order.' "
(A Renegade History of the United States, Thaddeus Russell, pgs. 20-22)

John Adams, a great proponent of joylessness

The Founding Fathers were quite obsessed with public morals. Many of the libertarian persuasion will assume that this was only amongst the Federalist movement whose base was largely centered around Puritan New England. However, the other dominate faction -the 'agarian republicans' centered around Virginia -were equally concerned with public morals. What's more, the morals that they sought to impose upon the American populace were not even at their root Christian morals, but pagan.
"Speaking broadly, even grossly, one may characterize American schools of republican thought as being in two categories: those which reduced their principles into systems of ideologies, and those which did not. Those which did -again speaking broadly, for there were shades and overlappings, and the substantive differences are clearly visible only at the extremes -may likewise be characterized in two categories. One, the more classical, may be described as puritan; the other, the more modern, may be described as agrarian.

"The two versions of ideological republicanism held a number of attitudes in common, the most crucial being preoccupation with the mortality of republics ('Half our learning, said Dawes, 'is their epitaph.') The vital -that is life-giving -principle of republics was public virtue. It is important to understand just what these two words signified. Like their Greek counterparts, polis and arete, they did not connote what is suggested by the idea of Christian virtue, with its emphasis upon meekness, passivity, and charity; quite the opposite, for the Christian concept of virtue was originally formulated as the central ethic in a counterculture that arose as a conscious protest against the classical cult of manliness. Nor did the public (or the polis) include everyone. Not coincidently, public, like virtue, derives from Latin roots signifying manhood: 'the public' included only independent adult males. Public virtue entailed firmness, courage, endurance, industry, frugal living, strength, and above all, unremitting devotion to the weal of the public's corporate self, the community of virtuous men. It was at once individualistic and communal: individualistic in that no member of the public could be dependent upon any other and still be reckoned a member of the public; communal in that every man gave himself totally to the good of the public as a whole. If public virtue declined, the republic declined, and if it declined to far, the republic died. Philosophical historians had worked out a regular life cycle, or more properly death cycle, of republics. Manhood gave way to effeminacy, republican liberty to licentiousness. Licentiousness, in turn, degenerated into anarchy, and anarchy inevitably led to tyranny.

"What distinguished puritanical republicanism from the agrarian variety was that the former sought a moral solution to the problem of the mortality of republics (make better people), whereas the latter believed in a socio-economic-political solution (make better arrangements). Almost nothing was outside the purview of a puritanical republican government, for every matter that might in any way contribute to strengthening or weakening the virtue of the public was a thing of concern to the public -a res publica -and was subject to regulation by the public. Republican liberty was totalitarian: one was free to do that, and only that, which was in the interest of the public, the liberty of the individual being subsumed in the freedom or independence of his political community."
(Novus Ordo Seclorum, Forrest McDonald, pgs. 70-71)

the Roman Senate of the Republic

Put bluntly, pagan civilizations such as those that flourished in ancient Greece and Rome simply did not have the concept of individuality that we in the modern world now possess. What's more, this notion of individuality derived largely from Christianity and the Middle Ages of Europe. I know that this is a bold statement considering that fundamentalist Christians are amongst the most prominent vanguard for the suppression of individuality in the modern world, yet such an individuality could not have existed in the pagan societies of the Classical Age. What's more, the 'republican totalitarianism' that McDonald writes of above is a thoroughly pagan notion.
"Greek and Roman society was built on the conception of the subordination of the individual to the community, of the citizen to the state; it set the safety of the commonwealth, as the supreme aim of conduct, above the safety of the individual whether in this world or in a world to come. Trained from infancy in this unselfish ideal, the citizens devoted their lives to the public service and were ready to lay them down for the common good; or if they shrank from the supreme sacrifice, it never occurred to them that they acted otherwise than basely in preferring their personal existence to the interests of their country. All this was changed by the spread of Oriental religions which inculcated the communion of the soul with God and its eternal salvation as the only objects with living for, objects in comparison with which the prosperity and even the existence of the state sank into insignificance. The inevitable result of this selfish and immoral doctrine was to withdraw the devotee more and more from the public service, to concentrate his thoughts on his own spiritual emotions, and to breed in him a contempt for the present life which he regarded merely as a probation for a better and eternal. The saint and the recluse, disdainful of earth and rapt in ecstatic contemplation of heaven, became in popular opinion the highest ideal of humanity, displacing the old ideal of the patriot and hero who, forgetful of self, lives and is ready to die for the good of his country. The earthly city seemed poor and contemptible to en whose eyes beheld the City of God coming in the clouds of heaven. Thus the centre of gravity, so to say, was shifted from the present to a future life, and however much the other world may have gained, there can be little doubt that this one lost heavily by the change. A general disintegration of the body politic set in. The ties of the state and the family were loosened: the structure of society tended to resolve itself into its individual elements and thereby to relapse into barbarism; for civilization is only possible through the active co-operation of the citizens and their willingness to subordinate their private interests to he common good. Men refused to defend their country and even to continue their kind. In their anxiety to save their own souls and the souls of others, they were content to leave the material world, which they identified with the principle of evil, to perish around them. This obsession lasted for a thousand years. The revival of Roman law, of the Aristotelian philosophy, of ancient art and literature at the close of the Middle Ages, marked the return of Europe to native ideals of life and conduct, to saner, manlier views of the world. The long halt in the march of civilization was over. The tide of Oriental invasion had turned at last. It is ebbing still."
(The Golden Bough, James Frazer, pgs. 359-360)

'Free' citizens of the Roman Republic were both required to serve in the legions (which often campaigned yearly) and pay for their own armor and weapons to do so

The safety of the commonwealth over that of the individual? Reverence for the patriot and hero that sacrifices of all, including their very life, for the good of the country? Frazer may as well have been discussing neocon campaign slogans or a Marine recruiting video rather than classical civilization. Yet the ethos of the Classical and Modern eras are converging more and more every day as Frazer implies. And this was very much the intention of the Founding Fathers. We need only consider their views on ancient Sparta (which is once again en vogue thanks to the heavily propagandist 300).
"One thinks of the remark of the Athenian Alcibiades about Sparta, the ancient republic that American republicans professed to admire the most: 'No wonder the Spartans cheerfully encounter death; it is a welcome relief to them from such a life as they are obliged to lead.' "
(Novus Ordo Seclorum, Forrest McDonald, pg. 73)

Were the obligations of Spartan freedom more terrifying than death?

And this, dear reader, was the 'freedom' that the Founders sought to impose upon us Americans. Of course this kind of unabashed militarism has never sat well with normal Americans. Thus, another -ism was needed to guide the populace towards proper republican virtues. Workaholism was determined to be an apt substitute for ultimately the greatest sin a free citizen of a virtuous republic could commit was unproductively. It was from Puritan New England that this philosophy derived.
"Even more persistent than the material structure of New England's economy was its ethic of work, which the founders of the Bay Colony introduced at an early date. This work ethic was a complex thing. It rested upon an idea that every Christian had two callings -a general calling and a special calling. The first was a Christian's duty to live a godly life in the world. The second was mainly his vocation. The Puritans did not think that success in one's calling was an instrument of salvation, but they believed that it was a way of serving God in the World."
(Albion's Seed, David Hackett Fischer, pgs. 155-156)

The so called Puritan work ethic emerged during the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation and was conceptualized by such legendary theologians as Martin Luther and John Calvin. The Puritan work ethic was essentially a transformation of the Catholic notion of good works, transferring them into a obligation to work hard as a sign of grace. However, this concept has always existed uneasily within a Christian framework. Man was condemned to labor due to Original Sin but he was also granted a weekly release from his labors to observe the Sabbath. Wealth is generally frowned upon in the New Testament and to an extent in the Old. The purpose of one's labors was what was ultimately important rather than the success. This was in stark contrast to the emerging commercial society beginning to take root in New England.
"The wealth a commercial perspective delivers provided a dilemma for a puritan society to wrestle with since the intense neo-Christianity of Puritanism was yoked to an intense talent for commercial transaction. This contradiction was resolved by declaring wealth a reliable sign of God's favor as poverty was a sign of His condemnation. Both pagan and mercantile ethical codes operated behind a facade of Christianity during the Christian era, weakening the gospel religion, while at the same time profiting from it and paying lip service to it. Proponents of these different frames called themselves Christians but did not live like Christians, rejecting certain tenets... those which interfered with personal gain."
(The Underground History of American Education, John Taylor Gatto, pg. 291)
The rise of Christianity saw a retreat from the material world in the Western psyche. But the Protestant Reformation unknowingly reversed the situation, giving rise to materialism. That it would ultimately deteriorate to senseless consumerism as we are now witnessing in the 21st century was inevitable. Binding an individual to their labor, and specifically to the amount that they labor, simply gave rise to a cult of work ethic that had no conception of morality other than earthly possessions. The rise of this cult was one of the greatest triumphs of propaganda in human history and it came at a terrible cost.
" has assumed an all-pervading role in modern life. Never have men worked so much as in our society. Contrary to what is often said, man works much more nowadays than, for example, in the eighteenth century. Only the working hours have decreased. But the omnipresence of the duties of his work, the obligations and constraints, the actual working conditions, the intensity of work that never ends, make it weigh much more heavily on men today than on men in the past. Every modern man works more than the slave of long ago; standards have been adjusted downward. But whereas the slave worked only because he was forced to, modern man, who believes in his freedom and dignity, needs reasons and justifications to make himself work. Even the children in a modern nation do an amount of wok at school which no child was ever asked to do before the beginning of the nineteenth century; there, too, justifications are needed. One cannot make people live forever in a state of assiduous, intense, never-ending labor without giving them good reasons and creating by example a virtue of Work..."
(Propaganda, Jacques Ellul, pgs. 140-141)

This is exactly what has happened in America since the Colonial era.
"From the time of the Puritan settlers... children's books, school primers, newspaper editorials, poems, pamphlets, sermons, and political speeches told Americans that to work was to be godly and to be idle was to be wretched. Cotton Mathers instructed parents to keep their children in 'continual Employment' so as to 'deliver them from the Temptations of Idleness,' and Thomas Shapard spoke for all Puritans when he told his son to 'abhor... one hour of idleness as you would be ashamed of one hour of drunkenness.' In the eighteenth century, Benjamin Franklin adapted the Puritan work ethic to the age of capitalism with his enormously popular aphorisms that counseled Americans to work all hours of the day in order to achieve dignity and respect. 'It is the working man who is the happy man,' he wrote in Poor Richard's Almanack. 'It is the idle man who is the miserable man.' With the beginning of mass industrial production in the nineteenth century, pride in work and shame in leisure became the defining characteristics of good citizens of the young nation."
(A Renegade History of the United States, Thaddeus Russell, pg. 49)
While the Puritans share a great deal of the blame for the cult of workaholism that now dominates these United States, the agrarian movement offers no viable alternative. Over the years, diverse factions ranging from the hippie communes of the late 1960s to the 'Freeman on the land' movement and the Ron Paul worshippers of the 2012 election cycle have held a certain reverence for the early American freeholder living off the fat of the land, which he worked with his own two hands. The mountain man of the 19th century American West has also spurred their fair share of romanticism. Both the freeholder and the mountain man were seen as the quintessential embodiment of American freedom -the individual that was totally self-sufficient, that provided for all of his needs by the sweat of his brow.

The only problem with this image is that such individuals were even more tied to their labors than a Northern factory work or a Southern slave. As to the mountain man, the great survival expert Cody Lundin notes:
"The average 1800s American mountain man died when he was between thirty-four to thirty-seven years old. Mountain men were not living off the land without survival tools. They possessed several horses and mules, bags of flour and other dried staples, rifles, knives, traps, fire-starting methods, intimate knowledge of the landscape they were working within, potential friendships with native peoples, guts, determination, and a serious sense of adventure. Do you have any guesses as to why they died so young..?

"...In the case of the mountain men, doing everything alone flat wore them out, leaving them more susceptible to the dangers of their daily life. In other words, they died young from the sheer harshness of their solitary lifestyles."
(When All Hell Breaks Loose, pgs. 78-79)

Most mountain men didn't live long enough to show grey in their beards

Things were not better for the average American small farmer on the frontier.
"The English writer Frances Trollope, who lived for several years on the Ohio frontier in the 1820s and 1830s, wrote with astonishment about the life of women... In addition to cooking and cleaning and minding the children, they spun and wove all the clothes for the family, manufactured all the soap and candles, and made butter to use and to sell for sundries in town. 'The life she leads,' Trollope wrote, 'is one of hardship, privation, and labour.' Whether a farm produced only enough for subsistence, produced a surplus for sale, or both, those who lived on it typically spent nearly every waking hour at work. Unlike slaves, these 'freeholders' were entirely responsible for their livelihood, and so, even when all the work was done, their thoughts remained occupied by it. Diaries of farmers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are filled with detailed records of labor done and labor in need of doing, as well as motivational sayings on the virtues of diligence, frugality, and discipline."
(A Renegade History of the United States, Thaddeus Russell, pg. 48)
The myth that the simple life lies in returning to the earth, is just that: a myth. In many cases every day was a struggle for survival for both the mountain man and the freeholder. If nothing else, day to day life entailed ceaseless, back-breaking labour. Gone were the folk dances, singing festivals, communal feasts and games, and the scores of holidays that had been staples of English life for centuries before our ancestors crossed the Atlantic. All that remained was work. And to make matters even worse, work was increasingly being transformed into a kind of slavery. One of the chief instruments of this transformation was the implementation of wage-labor.
"...Recent historical scholarship is curiously silent about the widespread opposition to wage labor in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, perhaps because it was influenced more directly by Lockean liberalism... than by the ideology of civic humanism. Yet the general uneasiness about the new economic order found its most striking expression in the nearly universal condemnation of wage labor.

"Langton Byllesby, a Philadelphia printer, argued in 1826 that wage labor, which destroyed the 'option whether to labour or not,' was the 'very essence of slavery.' The division of labor impoverished artisans, Byllesby said, 'for every improvement in the arts tending to reduce the value of labour necessary to produce them, must inevitably have the effect of increasing the value and power of wealth in the hands of those who may be fortuitously possessed of it.' In 1834, the General Traders' Union of New York declared, 'In proportion as the line of distinction between the employer and the employed is widened, the condition of the latter inevitably verges toward a system of vassalage.' Such statements recall Locke's argument that anyone forced by necessity to sell his labor lacked one of the essential attributes of freedom. As Mike Walsh put it, 'No man devoid of all other means of support but that which his labor affords him can be a freeman, under the present state of society. He must be a humble slave of capital...'

"Those who opposed the more and more militant demands made by artisans in the 1830s and 1840s did not quarrel with the claim that wage labor was a form of slavery. They merely denied that a permanent wage-earning class was taking shape in the United States... Americans took it as axiomatic, a cherished article of political faith, that freedom had to rest on the broad distribution of property ownership. In debates about universal suffrage, opponents of a restricted suffrage conceded the dangers of universal suffrage in societies marked by extremes of wealth and poverty...

"Both sides in early-nineteenth debates about suffrage and the labor question, in short, linked political freedom to the supremacy of the 'middling interests' or 'substantial yeomanry,' as the Jacksonian Robert Rantoul called them. Both sides took the position that freedom could not flourish in a nation of hirelings..."
(The True and Only Heaven, Christopher Lasch, pgs. 203-205)

Thus, even within the narrow confines of freedom that the Founding Fathers established, Americans have been totally enslaved. The very notion that wage labor is a kind of slavery is a totally foreign concept to the vast majority of Americans in the 21st century. Yet few among the Revolutionary generation, be they plebs or patriarchs, would have disputed the despotism a society such as ours would fall into with such a discrepancy between the wealthy and the poor. Universal ownership was always considered essential to republicanism even if it required an enormous amount of work to achieve. In the 21st century, the work load remains, but increasingly fewer and fewer Americans can expect to have a seat at the ownership table.

Neither far right or far left ideologies have offered any real alternatives either. Both fascism and communism feature the same reverence for work as capitalism. All three ideologies whole-heartily embrace the myth of 'liberation through work.' In many communist nations, the self described champions of the working class, workers could not even legally strike.

Regular readers may be wondering why I've chosen to write a article largely centered around the American obsession with work. This is a blog largely concerned with the occult, after all. But American workaholism is as much a product of occult societies as it is Christianity. Many of the Founding Fathers who sought to impose a system of ceaseless labor upon us were Freemasons. We've already examined how their notions of republican virtues were primarily pagan. While the 'Puritan work ethic' is often condemned (and not unjustly) for the plague of workaholism that has long infected this nation, it is often forgotten that Freemasonry was every bit as obsessed with work as any Puritan minister.

General Albert Pike, a 33rd degree Freemason in the Scottish Rite, dedicated an entire degree to work in his highly influential Masonic grimoire Morals and Dogmas. The degree, the twenty-second of thirty-three, was known as the Knight of the Royal Axe or Prince of Libanus. Libanus is an ancient name of Mount Lebanon. In the Bible Hiram of Tyre, who helped Solomon build his legendary temple, used cedar wood from Mount Lebanon in this work. A royal axe is likely the same as the double axe, the symbolism of which I've written on extensively here. As to the Masonic degree, Pike writes:
"Sympathy with the great laboring classes, respect for labor itself, and resolution to do some good work in our day and generation, these are the lessons of this Degree, and they are purely Masonic. Masonry has made a working-man and his associates the Heroes of her principal legend, and himself the companion of Kings. The idea is as simple and true as it is sublime. From first to last, Masonry is work. It venerates the Great Architect of the Universe. It commemorates the building of a Temple. Its principal emblems are the working tools of Masonry and Artisans. It preserves the name of the first worker in brass and iron as one of its pass-words. When the Brethren meet together, they are at labor. The Master is the overseer who sets the craft to work and gives them proper instruction. Masonry is the apotheosis of WORK...

"The life of all Gods figures itself to us as a Sublime Earnestness, -of Infinite battle against Infinite labor. Our highest religion is named the Worship of Sorrow. For the Son of Man there is no noble crown, well-worn, or even ill-worn, but is a crown of thorns. Man's highest destiny is not to be happy, to love pleasant things and find them. His only true unhappiness should be that he cannot work, and get his destiny as a man fulfilled. The day passes swiftly over, our life passes swiftly over, and the night cometh, wherein no man can work. That night once come, our happiness and unhappiness are vanished. It remains, or the want of it remains, for endless Times and Eternities...
(Morals and Dogmas, pg. 288)

Albert Pike

One of the major Masonic symbols is the beehive. It is symbolic of the social order Freemasonry strives for and the work ethic that it requires. The thirty-third degree Freemason Manly P. Hall states, "The beehive is found in Masonry as a reminder that in diligence and labor for a common good true happiness and prosperity are found" (The Secret Teachings of All Ages, pg. 271). Work is one of the chief aspects of life that this philosophy has been most rigorously imposed upon.
"Hives are the bees' houses and, by metonymy, the bees themselves, collectively, as a tribe. Their symbolic quality is therefore clear. In so far as it is a house, the hive is maternal reassurance and protection: in so far as it is a hard-working collective -and how hard-working: its hum is like that of a workshop or factory -the hive symbolizes the type of organized and directed confederation, subject to strict regulation, which is regarded as soothing and pacifying the individual's basic anxieties. Thus, in some initiation societies and religious communities, patterns of organization call to mind symbolically those through which some heads of state or business chiefs nowadays ensure their personal power in the name of order, justice and security."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pgs. 508-509)

As noted above, Pike views the proper structure of work the same as the structure of a Masonic lodge with a master who "sets the craft to work," a fancy way of saying he manages his underlinings. This is similar to the institution of wage-slavery that was imposed upon Americans in the nineteenth century. In early America each man strove to be his own master and had a decent shot of succeeding. It was only later on that the common American accepted his status as the perpetual apprentice. And yet he still labors as hard as ever in true Masonic fashion, for leisure is only fit for swine.
"Labor is the truest emblem of God, the Architect and Eternal Maker; noble Labor, which is yet to be the King of this Earth, and sit on the highest Throne. Men without duties to do, are like trees planted on precipices; from the roots of which all the earth has crumbled. Nature owns no man who is not also a Martyr. She scorns the man who sits screened from all work, from want, danger, hardship, the victory over which is work; and has all his work and battling done by other men; and yet there are men who pride themselves that they and theirs have done no work time out of mind. So neither have the swine."
(Morals and Dogmas, pg. 289)
And yet we saw early Americans were quite found of their leisure (of which drunkenness and casual sex was a major component of). It was only during the Revolution that the (Masonic) Founding Father began actively fostering 'republican virtues' that would lead to sober, joyless, productive worker bees that were necessary to maintain such an institution. So dear readers, do we currently toil under the Puritan work ethic? Or is it the Masonic work ethic? If it is the former, then why do so many professionals wear variations on Masonic dress when they head into the office?