Friday, October 26, 2012

The Neurosis Mysteries Part I

When occult and heavy metal are typically mentioned in the same sentence it's often in relation to the buffoonish Satanism of Venom and their ilk or, at worse, the notorious early Norwegian black metal scene. Despite the reputation metal has been given by the Christan right for decades one is far more likely to see serious occult symbolism (with ample doses of PSYOPs) in the average top 40 slut pop/hip hop music video that what most metal bands muster in their entire catalogues. When metal artists have taken their occultism seriously, it's usually in the form Anton LaVey's Randian Satanism or (occasionally Nazi-tinged) Germanic neo-paganism. However, there have been metal bands that have embraced serious occult themes based upon much older traditions.

One such group is Tool, the ritual laden, psychedelic alternative metal outfit of whom I've written much more on here. While Tool managed to acquire a suspicious amount of mainstream success in the 1990s an even more ritualistic act that inevitably had an enormous on Tool was churning out some of the most groundbreaking albums of the decade. They go by the name of Neurosis and for nearly two decades they've managed not just to push he bounds of metal but rock 'n' roll itself and what it's capable of in terms of both sound and performance.


In the Secret History of Rock 'N' Roll Christopher Knowles offered a most compelling theory concerning the nature of rock 'n' roll. In that work he wrote:
"Over time, I'd come to realize that rock 'n' roll is in fact the direct descendant of the Mysteries, which had evolved and adapted to suit the needs and customs of postwar American secular culture.
"What did the Mysteries offer that other cults of the time did not? Almost exactly what rock 'n' roll would, thousands of years later. Drink. Drugs. Sex. Loud music. Wild pyrotechnics. A personal connection to something deep, strange, and impossibly timeless. An opportunity to escape the grinding monotony of everyday life and break all the rules of polite society. A place to dress up in wild costumes and dance and drink and trip all night."
(pg. 6)

Knowles is of course referring to the Mystery religions, those ancient cults largely based around the Mediterranean that have fascinated, puzzled and shocked modern researchers in equal measures for decades. Knowles effectively argues that rock 'n' roll is a modern manifestation of the Mysteries, transferred to us from antiquity via the Collective Unconscious. I tentatively agree with Knowles' conclusions but increasingly I see rock 'n' roll as a reappearance of something even more ancient than the Mysteries. At it's best and purest rock has gone even further back than the initiated-priest dominated Mysteries to a faith at its most primitive and shamanistic. Few groups have captured this raw spirituality as effectively as Neurosis though many have tried.

Over the course of two decades Neurosis has had such a vast influence that they've spawned their own subgerne: post-metal. Further, their mind-bending, shamanistic spirituality combined with uber heavy riffs and brutal vocals spurred some of the most innovative and unique metal of the past-decade: Mastadon, Kylesa and the great Yob, among others, have added their own distinct take on Neurosis' esoteric music but they've never quite reached their heights. I suspect Neurosis will usher in what will become a third decade of brilliance on October 30, 2012, when they release their eleventh full length studio album, Honor Found in Decay. With that date fast approaching it seems as good a time as any to more closely examine one of the most unique and influential bands of the past twenty-five years.

the new album

Neurosis was founded in Oakland, California in 1985. They originally began as a three-piece hardcore punk band comprised of Scott Kelly (guitar and vocals), Dave Edwardson (bass), Jason Roeder (drums). In 1986 they added Chris Salter on second guitar. Salter dropped out of the group in 1989 and was replaced by Steve Von Till (guitar and vocals). These four individuals are still in Neurosis and have served as it's core for over 20 years.

Neurosis' first two albums, Pain of Mind (1988) and Word as Law (1990), were thrash/hardcore hybrids that were not well received. After Law they began to change both their sound and live performances, moving away from their thrash and hardcore roots while embracing the emerging sludge and doom metal scenes. Their songs were now built around slow and massively heavy guitar riffs punctured by the occasional feedback laden lead and sometimes driven by tribal sounding beats. Both Kelly and Von Till would split vocal duties (with it often being impossible to tell them apart), which largely consisted of brutal, crust punk influenced vocals with Emerson occasionally adding some near death metal-style backup vocals. The vocals can be hard to take but increasingly I seem them as essential to the primal state Neurosis' music strives for.

As the 90s rolled along, progressive, dark ambient, industrial, and even folk influences would be incorporated into Neurosis' signature sound. They also added a full time keyboard player (originally Simon McIlroy and later Noah Landis) that would use both conventional parts as well as bizarre synthesizers and samples. Neurosis would also begin to employ a host of additional instruments such as flutes, violins, and even bagpipes from time to time.

Live, they began to add a whole multimedia onslaught. Beginning in 1990 they added a visual artist, Adam G. Kendall, to perform live with the group. He was later replaced by Pete Inc in 1993 and in 2000 Inc was replaced by Scott Graham, who still holds the job to this day. Much of the lighting and visuals Neurosis employs live is of an experimental and psychedelic nature. For the tour of 1996's Through Silver in Blood much of the imagery used live derived from Ken Russell's uber-trippy cult classic Altered States, for instance.

Neurosis live

All of this would lend a highly ritualistic and even religious aspect to Neurosis' music. In a 2007 interview with the U.K. Guardian guitarist/vocalist Von Till would remark:
"When you learn to surrender to something bigger than yourself, you're acknowledging the realm of spirit – and where else does music come from? I have no idea, but it feels like it's not just deep in the core of us, but deep within the core of the Earth, the stars and everything else."
The pivotal point for Neurosis was in the early 1990s around the time they released their landmark Souls at Zero album when they began to realize the full potential of their music. In the same Guardian interview Von Till stated:
"I think [1992 album] Souls at Zero was when the music became something else. It was taking that material out on the road and losing ourself in the trance states induced by playing hypnotic, super-heavy loud music that we really figured out how to surrender to it. Then we said, OK – this is going to take us to where we wanna go: somewhere deeper, somewhere more emotional, somewhere elemental."
Von Till live

Souls at Zero is very much an album centered around spiritual exploration. The opening track, "To Crawl under One's Skin" begins with a spoken word sample that warns the listener: "To go on the mythic journey into your own self, it's not that you might meet conflict, it's that you will." From there a montage of what sounds like samples taken of various televangelists hypnotize the listener until the actual song starts. From there the conflict begins in earnest as harsh vocals recount the pain of true spiritual aspirations in a world that has no use for them.

As the album unfolds Neurosis presents a world spiritually void and drowning in warfare and materialism. A struggle is present throughout the songs to hold on to something pure amidst the endless onslaught of the modern world. In "A Chronology for Survival" the lyrics command the listener to hold their ground against all odds:

The cycles they are clawing
Wander, then starve
The cycles they are thawing
Wallow, then freeze
It all comes together on the final track, "Takeahnase," which begins with a sample of what sounds like a Native American shaman. He states: "We are facing a dangerous period ahead. If we do not stop and correct some of these wrong doings now we are all going to suffer. Either things that we made will take us or nature will take over... Earthquakes, floods, rains, sever droughts, sever winters, lightening destructive, great winds destructive... These things will warn us that we are not following the law of the Great Spirit."

The word "Takeahnase" was apparently coined by guitarist/vocalist Scott Kelly. The word is sung in the song like a tribal chant. It seems to be a description of an apocalypse that the band sees unfolding, one brought about by a combination of vulture capitalism and spiritually bankrupt Christianity. This is made clear on the opening verse:
When it begins --Takeahnase
The floods will sever the christs from the earth
Thieves called it property --Takeahnase
You'll drown for our mother's disgrace

The artwork of Souls at Zero is justifiably considered classic and laden with rich occult symbolism. The front depicts a wicker man within an ouroboros, a loaded image if ever there was one. In ancient times wicker men/giants primarily appeared in Celtic countries and were burned on major fire festivals, most notably the eve of May Day and the night of Halloween (which makes the release date for Neurosis' latest album all the more apt). In modern times the wicker giants have gained more than a little notoriety due to the role they played in Celtic human sacrifices.
"The following seem to have been the main outlines of the custom. Condemned criminals were reserved by the Celts in order to be sacrificed to the gods at a great festival which took place once every five years. The more there were off such victims, the greater was believed to be the fertility of the land. If there were not enough criminals to furnish victims, captives taken in war were immolated to supply the deficiency. When the time came the victims were sacrificed by the Druids or priests. Some they shot down with arrows, some they impaled, and some they burned alive in the following manner. Colossal images of wicker-work or of wood and grass were constructed; these were filled with live men, cattle, and animals of other kinds; fire was then applied to the images, and they were burned with their living contents."
(The Golden Bough, James Frazer, pgs. 745-746)

Interestingly, Frazer believes that the wicker giants represented a kind of religious corruption that was latter incorporated into Medieval Christianity: namely, the witch burnings:
"If we are right in interpreting the modern European fire-festivals as attempts to break the power of witchcraft by burning or banning the witches and warlocks, it seems to follow that we must explain the human sacrifices of the Celts in the same manner; that is, we must suppose that the men whom the Druids burnt in wicker-work images were condemned to death on the ground that they were witches or wizards, and that the mode of execution by fire was chosen because, as we have seen, burning alive is deemed the surest mode of getting rid of these noxious and dangerous beings... One advantage of explaining the ancient Celtic sacrifices in this way is that it introduces, as it were, a harmony and consistency into the treatment which Europe has meted out to witches from the earliest times down to about two centuries ago, when the growing influence of rationalism discredited the belief in witchcraft and put a stop to the custom of burning witches. On this view the Christian Church in its dealings with the black arts merely carried out the traditional policy of Druidism, and it might be a nice question to decide which of the two, in pursuance of that policy, exterminated the larger number of innocent men and women."
(ibid, pgs. 748-749)
Frazer's comparison of the religious persecutions by both the Christian Church and Druidism is compelling in the context of Souls at Zero when we consider that the wicker man on the cover appears inside of an ouroboros.
"The serpent biting its tail into the shape of a circle, a break with its linear development which would seem to mark as big a change as emergence upon a higher level of existence, a level of celestial or spiritualized existence, symbolized by the circle. The serpent thus transcends the plane of brute life to move forward in the direction of the most basic living impulses. This explanation, however, depends upon the symbolism of the circle, the image of celestial perfection. An opposite image may be conjured up by the serpent biting its tail, ceaselessly revolving around itself enclosed within its own cycle... As one condemned never to escape its own cycle and raise itself to a higher plane, the ouroboros symbolizes eternal return, the endless cycle of rebirth and a continual repetition which betrays the dominance of a basic death-wish."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pgs. 728-729)

Both above explanations could be applied to Souls at Zero. On the one hand the album can be seen as chronicling an attempt to 'transcend the plane of brute life" by achieving a higher state of being. On the other hand the pairing of the ouroboros and the wicker man could indicate that the search for a higher plane of being will always be foiled by the endless cycle of religious persecution, be it pagan or Christian.

The theme of a brutal and corrupt opposition against pure spirituality would continue throughout the rest of Neurosis' 90s albums. With 1994's Enemy of the Sun album Neurosis seemed to introduce a Crowley-ian concept of stellar, lunar and solar cults in which the former two have been in conflict with the latter. Of this conflict, Crowley disciple Kenneth Grant wrote:
"The Cult of Sumer represents the initiated Stellar Tradition as it was carried out of Egypt, where the pre-eval Cult Set characterized the religious modes of the dark dynasties. These were the dynasties whose monuments were mutilated and sacrificed by the adherents of the later Solar cults who abhorred all reminders of the sabean origins of their theology.
"The desecrators of the Star and Moon cults were the Osirians, later represented by the Christians, who, in their fierce persecution of the Gnostic, played a role analogous to that of the Solarites against the Draconians."
(The Magical Revival, pg. 70-71)
By album's end Neurosis has seemingly traced religion back to it's very origins with the tribal onslaught that is "Cleanse," the album closer in which all kinds of percussion is employed to invoke some type of ritual. I wrote a bit before here on this album so I shall not delve further into it.

Plus, this gives me even more space to focus on one of the most esoteric albums of all times. 1996's Through Silver in Blood is considered by many fans to be Neurosis' finest hour and they may well be right. The album also happens to be one of Neurosis' most explicitedly occult lyrically. Even the title itself is riddled with meaning. It seemingly alludes to the conflict between lunar and solar cults as well.
"In the scale of correspondences between metals and planets, silver relates to the Moon and belongs to a symbolic scheme, or chain, linking Moon to Water to female principle. Traditionally gold, the active, male, solar, diurnal and fiery principal, is opposed to silver, the passive, female, lunar, watery and cold principle."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pg. 882)
an alchemical symbol for silver showing it to be interchangeable with the moon

Silver can also be symbolic of Divine Wisdom. Conversely, blood is closely associated with the sun. On the one hand then the title could employ an attempt to merge the two strands. On the other hand it could be taken more literal, i.e. Divine Wisdom could only be gained through blood. The album cover, which depicts two silver serpents over a face bleeding from the eyes, seems to point toward the latter. Serpents are often associated with wisdom, while the face, seemingly blinded, does not seem to be able to handle them. There could also be a psychedelic association at play, which I shall address in a moment.

The album establishes a ritualistic atmosphere from the get go on the title track thanks to Jason Roeder's tribal and highly hypnotic beats. After nearly two minutes of the groove a thesis is stated:
"Through silver in blood
We stand judged not by eyes of flesh
When transit times cross
Prey vision
It is here that Neurosis introduce another Crowley-ian concept, that of the Aeon, which shall appear throughout the album.
"A Gnostic term for the Supreme Deity; also a cycle of time denoting a period of approximately 2000 years (in the Crowley Cult). The present Aeon of Osiris, which commenced in 1904. It superseded the Aeon of Osiris, which was typified by the rise and fall of such religions as Judaism and Christianity. Previous to that was the Aeon of Isis, the Pagan era, many elements of which are reappearing in the present Aeon."
(The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant, pg. 214)
in the Thoth Tarot Crowley designed the Judgement trump was reimagined as the Aeon

The transition of Aeons is presented as a violent time by Neurosis, littered with war and injustice. Many fans consider this to be the heaviest of Neurosis' albums and I'd be hard to pressed to dispute this claim. Musically the album brilliantly invokes the feeling of combat --of wandering aimless across a battlefield with bombs exploding all around and your companions being torn to pieces. But the actual war Neurosis depicts is one of the soul and not the body.

On the third track, "Eye," Neurosis seems to initially invoke the kind of spiritual experience certain individuals experience on psychedelics, especially DMT. The lyrics speak of "visions of serpents cut/Life storm/Suffocated/ Spirit's regression avowed." Jeremy Narby wrote extensively on the association between DMT and serpents in his classic The Cosmic Serpent. Writing on his experiences with ayahuasca, a DMT-laced drink consumed by South American Indians during rituals, Narby remarks:
"During my first ayahuasca experience I saw a pair of enormous and terrifying snakes. They conveyed an idea that bowled me over and later encouraged me to reconsider my self-image. They taught me that I was just a human being. To others, this may not seem like a great revelation; but at the time, it was exactly  what the young anthropologist I was needed to learn. Above all, it was a thought that I could not have had myself, precisely because of my anthropocentric presuppositions...
"Eight years after my first ayahuasca experience, my desire to understand the mystery of the hallucinatory serpents was undiminished. I launched into this investigation and familiarized myself with the different studies of ayahuasca shamanism only to discover that my experience had been commonplace. People who drink ayahuasca see colorful and gigantic snakes more than any other vision..."
(The Cosmic Serpent, pgs. 112-113)
"Eye" seems to operate along these lines, with the lyrics hinting at an attempt to reconcile the mundane world with a life changing experience brought about by psychedelics. This might be what the album cover alludes to.

DMT inspired cosmic serpents

The next track, the aptly titled "Purify," seems to deal with the path of illumination. The individual described in the song is leaving a life of materialism for the uncertainty of spiritual discovery. The lyrics follow the struggle that this path entails.
Can you feel your fate
Can you see you're
Binding time hide
From the light
Biding time hide
From your life
Drowning in the birth
Place of the sun
Descending the path
Of an ascending God
Purify my hells to
Climb the heavens
Sacrifice the flesh
Feeding solar visions
The next track ,"Locust Star," is one of the most striking on the entire album and an unsurprising fan favorite. Locusts have historically been symbolic of a destructive scourge as well as spiritual and moral torment. In this context the star of the title is likely symbolic of the stellar tradition early religion was based upon. In general, the song seems to be about the destruction of the solar tradition as a new Aeon comes to pass. The 'chorus' of the song consists of Von Till or Kelly howling "Star! Reign down on you!" The song ends lyrically with some very Masonic musings.
The will to power
Ascension manifest
That which is above
Is as that which is below
That which is below
Is as that which is above
Thy will be done
Thy kingdom come
On earth as in heaven
So mote it be
the Magician trump is symbolic of "as above, so below"

The concept of "As above, so below" derives from Hermeticism and was adopted into Freemasonry. Hermeticism also had an enormous influence on Gnosticism, which also seems to play heavily into "Locust Star." Gnosticism developed from Hermeticism in the late pre-Christian/early Christian era and would feature many elements of Christianity, including the acknowledgement of Jesus Christ in many strands. It would run into conflict with orthodox Christianity from almost the get go and would be largely eradicated by it once Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. "Locust Star" seems to follow this conflict between Gnostic and orthodox strands of Christianity.
You'll starve
Bright star in the
Dripping sun
Writhe on
Saints steal from your actions
Step right on its functions
Stick him...
You all lower me
Christ's shine blinds
Your world
Your belief is scars
The next track, "Strength of Fates," finds the narrator reborn into the faith of the new Aeon. This is made abundantly clear in the opening lines, delivered in something resembling a conventional vocal even:
On this earth
Lay me down
Soil my blood
This shell will fade
Gods with eyes
I'm ready now
At the hanging tree
Giver of life
Great mother heal
I will rise 
Odin upon Yggdrasil

The hanging tree in the above stanza seems to be an allusion to Yggdrasil, the Nordic World Tree on which the god Odin hung from for nine days to receive wisdom (incidentally, there are nine tracks on this album). The narrator undergoes a similar transformation and emerges horrified at the world surrounding him.
What hath God wrought
Divine misthought
No senses, cold and sedate
A self imposed
Fear-driven state
Too hurt to see
Unhidden truth
Increasing void
Worsened fate
The next track is called "Aeon," appropriately enough. Here the narrator observes the rise of the new Aeon and seems to realize that it's not all that its cracked up to be.
Our universe will breed, Aeon
Ravens descend, freeze
Your destiny breathes discord
Fall, obsidian tides
Will be nature's bane
Ravens have an interesting association in Hermeticism, especially in regards to alchemy (one of three parts of wisdom of the whole universe in alchemy and sometimes called the Operation of the Sun):
"Alchemists have always associated the stage of putrefaction, when matter becomes black, with the raven. They call this stage 'the Raven's Head': it is leprous and must be bleached by 'bathing seven times in the waters of Jordan.' These are the imbibitions, subliminations, cohobations or digestion of matter, all practiced under the lordship of fire alone. This is why the black bird is so often depicted on the pages of ancient treasties of Hermetic lore."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pgs. 790-791)

Ravens can also been seen "as a solar hero and often as a Demiurge or messenger of the gods" (ibid, pg. 790). In the context of "Aeon" I suspect they are meant to be perceived as messengers of the gods or possibly even the gods themselves. This makes the appearance of "obsidian tides" most ominous.
"The blades of sacrificial knives were originally made of flint --or obsidian --and the stone has preserved its 'white' magical property among Central American Indians. It preserves against 'black' magic and drives evil spirits away."
(ibid, pg. 710)
an obsidian blade

With allusions to discord and "nature's bane", I doubt the "obsidian tides" are meant as driving out 'black' magic --In fact, quite the opposite has taken place. The final track, "Enclosed in Flame," seems to be a realization of the suffering the new Aeon has ushered in. The lunar/stellar tradition ultimately proves no less destructive than the solar. It seemingly ends with the spiritual journey beginning anew, with the narrator "Silently praying for/Enclosure within the/Flame of origin," i.e. still seeking the primal faith of early humanity.

And it is here that I shall wrap things up. In the next installment I shall focus mainly on Neurosis' '00s albums. For my readers that don't normally listen to underground metal, I promise the latter period stuff is not quite as intense.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

There's More Than One of Everything

Recent headlines keep bringing me back to a phrase the would become essential to the plot line of the synchromystic TV series Fringe: There's more than one of everything. This was of course the name of the finale of the first season and would prove to be quite a literal declaration. As the series unfolds the viewer learns that there at least two alternate realities happening simultaneously in different universes and that there are doubles of virtually all of the characters that appear on the show.

Olivia of Fringe and her double (right)

Increasingly, when it comes to high weirdness at least, it also seems though there's more than one of everything. Probably the most notable incident of this of late are the two salon shootings that occurred within days of one another. The first happened on Thursday, October 18, in Casselberry, Florida. The shooter was an African-American male spurred on by a breakup with his girlfriend, who worked at the salon. MSNBC reports:
"Police have identified 36-year-old Bradford Baument as the gunman who stormed a Florida hair salon, fatally shooting three women and injuring a fourth before killing himself at a friend’s home, police said.
"Police say the deadly rampage appeared to part of a domestic dispute.
"The Salon’s manager, Marcia Santiago, who was also Baument’s ex-girlfriend, had filed a restraining order against Baument, according to WESH-TV in Orlando.
"About two hours before a court hearing on the restraining order was to start, Baument stormed Las Dominicanas M & M Salon in Casselberry, northeast of Orlando, and opened fire, police spokeswoman Sara Brady said.
"Santiago was critically injured in the shooting. Officials identified two of the slain as: Noelia Gonzalez-Brito, 28, an employee, and Gladys Cabrera, 52, a customer. Identity of the third slaying victim was not released. Two others escaped injury by hiding in the bathroom, WESH-TV reported."
Casselberry shooter Bradford Baument

The second salon shooting occurred on Sunday, October 21. It occurred in Brookfield, Wisconsin, near Milwaukee. In this case an African American male killed three people including his ex-wife, who had recently filed a restraining order against the shooter, before killing himself. MSNBC notes:

"A man who was ordered last week to turn over all his weapons in a domestic dispute opened fire Sunday at his estranged wife's workplace near Milwaukee, killing three women and injuring four others, authorities said. He then apparently shot himself to death, police said.
"The suspect was identified as Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, 45, of Brown Deer, Wis., said Brookfield Police Chief Daniel Tushaus, who said Haughton was found dead in the building, a 9,000-square-foot, two-story salon and day spa across the street from a busy mall...
"Milwaukee County court records show that Haughton's wife, Zina Daniel Haughton, filed for a restraining order on Oct. 8...
"Police said the shootings began at 11:09 a.m. (12:09 p.m. ET) at the Azana Day Spa, across Moorland Road from Brookfield Square mall in Brookfield, about 10 miles west of Milwaukee. The mall was closed as SWAT team members scoured the area for Haughton."
Wisconsin shooter Radcliffe Haughton Jr.

The similarities between these two events go beyond creepy. As noted above, both shooters were African American males who ultimately committed suicide after the murders. The initial targets in both shootings were seemingly the former significant others of either shooter. Both women were in the process of filing restraining orders against the men who would ultimately kill them. Both shootings happened in salons and the total number of deaths in each was three victims plus the shooter. What's more, Radcliffe Haughton Sr., the father of the Wisconsin shooter, currently lives in Florida, in Winter Garden, none the less. For those of you who don't live around here, Winter Garden is a little over 20 miles from Casselberry.

What's more, this is the second time the Milwaukee area has been the site of a high profile shooting in a little less than three months. In early August white supremacist Wade Michael Page murdered several people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. I and several other bloggers believe that this may have been a quasi-copycat of the more notorious Aurora shooting that took place just a little over two weeks before the Sikh temple shooting. I've written more on this topic before here.

Wade Michael Page

These are hardly the only doubles I've stumbled upon lately. Indeed, the headlines have been riddled with them. Consider the case of the University of South Alabama student who was gunned down by police while totally naked. MSNBC reported that said student, named Gil Collar, was tripping on LSD when said incident unfolded:
"A nude University of South Alabama freshman had taken LSD and assaulted others before he chased the campus police officer who fatally shot him, authorities said Tuesday, though the student wasn't armed and didn't touch the officer."
Mr. Collar is not the only naked individual to be killed by the police of late. For the most recent incident, which occurred about two weeks after Mr. Collar's shooting, we return to Florida once again. There, near the Tampa area, two off duty police officers killed a naked woman. Again with MSNBC:
"Two off-duty Florida law-enforcement officers fatally shot an armed, naked woman who confronted them at a social gathering Saturday, authorities said.
"The shooting occurred at about 1:15 p.m. Saturday in Hernando County, north of Tampa. The county sheriff's office said in a news release that the men were approached by an 'armed, naked and irrational female.' The news release does not identify the weapon, but it says 'one or both of the law enforcement officers fired their weapons, striking the female.' She died at the scene."

Naturally police are refusing to reveal the weapon this woman had that was so threatening to the off duty officers. It'll be most interesting to see what they come up with and what, if anything, was in this woman's system at the time of the shooting. If she was also using psychedelics, then she would be the third individual of late to be involved in a fatal incident while tripping. In addition to Mr. Collar's fatal run in with campus police, a man from Clay, New York has recently admitted to killing his own father while under the influence of magic mushrooms. The Post-Standard reports:
"A town of Clay man admitted in court today he intentionally killed his father but was acting under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs at the time.
"Herman Tolbert Jr., 24, pleaded guilty before state Supreme Court Justice John Brunetti to a reduced charge of first-degree manslaughter in the death of his 68-year-old father, Herman Tolbert Sr.
"The elder Tolbert was found dead in his home at 4977 Moses Drive in Clay, on Aug. 4, 2011. He died from a single stab wound to the chest from a butcher knife...
"In court, Doran said Tolbert had a history of paranoid schizophrenia that was exacerbated by his use of drugs. At the time of the crime, Tolbert was under the influence of hallucinogenic mushrooms, the prosecutor said."

The implications of these two deaths, and possibly a third in Florida, are most interesting to me. At present I don't have time to go in depth into these events but I've dabbled with the notion that what one experiences on psychedelics are more than hallucinations before here. Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

One final double I would like to briefly address before wrapping things up are a series of non-fatal (for now) shootings that have broken out in Michigan near the I-96 corridor. Apparently someone has been shooting at various motorists across a series of roads from a car. There have been 16 reported shootings so far. When I first read this story I was immediately reminded of the D.C. sniper shootings that occurred along the Beltway area. These shootings were of course far more lethal than the ones in Michigan have proved to be thus far. What is unsettling about the Michigan shootings are the dates. The D.C. sniper shootings occurred over a period of three weeks in October 2002. This is almost exactly ten years to the day that the Michigan shootings started.

There's more than one of everything in deed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

17 Over the New York Fed

The FBI's latest foiled 'terror' attack was rather symbolic, to say the least, in addition to being highly opportunistic. I suspect the right wing blogosphere is already having a field day with today's events. For those of you not keeping pace of current events, here's an overview from MSNBC:
"A suspected terrorist parked a van packed with what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb next to the Federal Reserve building in Lower Manhattan and tried to detonate it Wednesday morning before he was arrested in a terror sting operation, authorities said.
"The suspect, 21-year-old Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, is a Bangladeshi national who came to the U.S. on a student visa in January for the specific purpose of launching a terror attack here, authorities said. He allegedly told an undercover agent last month that he hoped the attack would disrupt the presidential election, saying You know what, this election might even stop' according to the criminal complaint against him..." 
"The complaint said Nafis wrote a statement claiming responsibility for what he thought would be the Fed attack, saying he wanted to "destroy America" by going after its economy. He referred to 'our beloved Sheikh Osama bin Laden' in the statement, which was stored on a thumb drive.
"He also proposed various other targets beyond the Fed building at 33 Liberty St., just blocks from the World Trade Center site, prosecutors said. He considered targeting a 'high-ranking U.S. official' as well as the New York Stock Exchange.

"Kelly said he knew who the official was but refused to name the person, saying only that any details not in the complaint would be revealed in future court proceedings."
Mr. Nafis

Like most terror attacks the FBI stops, the suspect, in this case Mr. Nafis, was being controlled by an FBI informant for months before he decided to carry out 'his' plot. Continuing with MSNBC:
"He allegedly sought out al-Qaida contacts to help him, unknowingly recruiting an FBI source in the process. At that point, the FBI and NYPD began monitoring him as he developed the plot, prosecutors said.

"An undercover FBI agent posed as an al-Qaida facilitator, supplying him with 20 50-pound bags of what he thought were explosives to use in building his bomb. Nafis also visited the Lower Manhattan site multiple times as he planned the attack, officials said.

"The complaint said he told an agent in July that he wanted  'something very big ... that will shake the whole country.'

"Prosecutors say Nafis met the agent Wednesday morning and put the bomb inside a van before driving to the Fed building, assembling the detonator while he drove.

"The pair parked the van by the Fed, got out and walked to a hotel, where Nafis covered his face, put on sunglasses and recorded a video statement he meant to be released after the attack. He then tried to detonate the bomb through a cell phone detonator, officials said."
Just how much of Mr. Nafis' plot was devised by the FBI remains to be seen, but if it's consistent with other such attempts, then I suspect Mr. Nafis had little actual involvement in the planning stage. The twilight language is, however, most striking. First, consider the location where Mr. Nafis attempted to detonate the bomb. The New York Post reports:
"He parked the van, then he went to the Millennium Hilton near the World Trade Center, where he called the cell phone in the van."
the Millennium Hilton Hotel

The Millenium Hotel is not just near the World Trade Center site, it's right across the street from it. It was badly damaged on 9/11 and did not reopen till May 2003. 9/11 has of course been subject of any number of conspiracy theories over the past eleven years since the events of that day. The year 2000, the beginning of a new millennium, was also subject to numerous conspiracy theories at the time.

On the topic of conspiracy theories, few have generated as many as the Federal Reserve System. A quick Google search will bring up dozens, probably even hundreds of pages. The New York Fed played an especially important role in the early years of the Federal Reserve System and has thus featured prominently in such theories.
"The secret meeting of a handful of top bankers at the Jekyll Island Club in November 1910 that framed the prototype of the Federal Reserve Act was held at a resort facility provided by J.P. Morgan himself. The Federal Reserve, in its first two decades, contained two loci of power: the main one was the head, then called the governor, of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; of lesser importance was the Federal Reserve Board in Washington."
(A History of Money and Banking in the United States, Murray N. Rothbard, pg. 264)
one of the classic expose' of the Fed

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York would play a major role in leading the nation into the Great Depression, which resulted in its powers being curtailed afterwards. Still, it plays a major role in the modern Federal Reserve System, with the head of the New York Fed typically regarded as second only to the Fed Chairman.

What's more, Federal Reserve conspiracy theories have long been tied to the Freemasons, who have been the subjects of more than a few conspiracy theories themselves. In such cases it is generally held that the Masons are the descendants of the Knights Templar who either invented or rediscovered fraction reserve banking, depending upon the source. This technique was handed down through the ages and gradually spread to ever nation on Earth and is now used to control the international economy.

In this context, the location of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is most interesting: 33 Liberty Street. 33 is of course the highest degree in Scottish Rite Freemasonry.
"...consider the number 33. The first temple of Solomon stood for thirty-three years in its pristine splendor. At the end of that time it was pillaged by the Egyptian King Shishak, and finally (588 B.C.) it was completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the people of Jerusalem were led to captivity to Babylon... Also King David ruled for thirty-three years in Jerusalem; the masonic Order is divided into thirty-three symbolic degrees; there are thirty-three segments in the human spinal column; and Jesus was crucified in the thirty-third year of his life."
(The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Manly P. Hall, pgs. 238-239)
the symbol of the thirty-third degree of Scottish Rite Freemasonry

The date of this latest event, October 17, 2012, is also interesting. Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm quite interested in the number 17, partly because of my personal association with it. In general the number 17 is highly symbolic.
"This number, together with seventy-two, the first being the sum of nine and eight when added, the second of their product when multiplied together, has vast symbolic importance...
"...the Star, the seventeenth arcanum of the Tarot, which is a symbol of change and rebirth and what Dr Allendy explains as 'deliverance from Karma...' Furthermore, according to the Sufi alchemist Gabir ibn Hayyan, the shape (sura) of all things in the world is seventeen. Seventeen stands for the very foundation of the theory of balance and should be regarded as the law of equilibrium in all things...
"The Ancient Greeks regarded seventeen as standing for the number of consonants in the alphabet, successively broken down into nine (the number of mute consonants) and eight (the number of semi-vowels or semi-consonants). These numbers are also closely related to their theory of music and to the harmony of the spheres."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pgs. 866-867)

So, we have both 17 and 33, two number with many occult associations, appearing in this event. We also have the millennium, the World Trade Center site, and the Federal Reserve all appearing in this event, all three of which hold much significance within conspiracy culture.

What becomes really curious then is what 'high ranking U.S. official' Mr. Nafis also wanted to assassinate and if it will play into the 2012 elections.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The House of Mellon Part II


Welcome to the second installment in my examination of the infamous Pittsburgh-based Mellon family. In part one I largely stuck to the life and times Andrew Mellon, the US Secretary of Treasury who oversaw the onset of the Great Depression and probably the most well known member of the family. As we saw, the Mellons were easily one of the most important and influential families of that era. Though they've never gotten quite the same attention as other aristocratical American families such as the Morgan or Rockefeller clans their wealth and influence is on a similar level. Further, they have remained major power brokers in the American (and international) political scene up to the present day.

Before moving along to the lives and times of more modern Mellons there's one final aspect of the family's World War II era days I would like to consider: Their long-standing ties to the US Intelligence community. These ties go all the way back to the OSS, America's chief WWII era spy agency and the predecessor to the CIA (which would be dominated by old OSS men such Allen Dulles for decades afterwards).
"A number of Mellons served in the OSS, notably David Bruce, the OSS station chief in London (whose father-in-law, Andrew Mellon, was treasury secretary during the Depression). After the war certain influential members of the Mellon family maintained close ties with the CIA. Mellon family foundations have been used repeatedly as conduits for Agency funds. Furthermore, Richard Helms was a frequent weekend guest of the Mellon patriarchs in Pittsburgh during his tenure as CIA director (1966-1973)."
(Acid Dreams, Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shlain, pg. 246)
Richard Helms, the former head of the CIA who was in frequent contact with the Mellon family during his directorship

The frequent meetings between the Mellons and Helms during that era (1966-1973) will factor heavily in this piece, so keep them in mind. For now, I would like to consider David Bruce and the involvement of other Mellons in the OSS in a bit more detail.
"...David Bruce --the US Ambassador to the Court of St. James during the Profumo affair... A former and important member of the OSS during World War II, Colonel Bruce landed in Normandy with the head of the OSS: General 'Wild Bill' Donovan... Bruce had married (and later divorced) a Mellon. During the War, David Bruce's OSS network operated behind enemy lines in France, disrupting the German Army; at one point, Bruce had hundreds of French agents under his command.
"Bruce would later go on to even greater glory, not only as US Ambassador to England, but also to France and Germany. He would also be involved, with Henry Kissinger, in the Paris Peace Talks during the Vietnam Era. Bruce's connections in Europe during the War included high-ranking Italian Masons who held influential posts within Mussolini's government...
"There were other Mellons on board at OSS: Paul Mellon (Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon's son) served with the OSS Special Operations Branch in London, moving on to become commander of the morale Operations Branch, based in Luxembourg. According to Richard Harris Smith, "Other Mellons and Mellon in-laws held espionage posts in Madrid, Geneva and Paris... In addition to the Mellons, members of the Morgan, Vanderbilt, and DuPont families were very active in the OSS making it essentially a 'rich man's club.' David Bruce himself was the son of a US Senator and a millionaire even before his marriage to Alisa Mellon."
(Sinister Forces Book II, Peter Levenda, pgs. 315-316)
David Bruce, a Mellon in-law and 'former' OSS man

Levenda's  description of the OSS as a "rich man's club" is most interesting in the context of what we learned about the American power establishment in the prior installment of this series. As was previously noted, the Great Depression was a slight blow to the financial stranglehold America's 'natural aristrocracy'  had over the nation. The post World War II era was marked by concessions that led to the highest standards of living for the American middle class that any human being in history had ever experienced. This came at a rather bothersome cost to America's elites. Don't misunderstand me, the Rockefellers, the Morgans, the Mellons and their ilk all remained obscenely wealthy, just not quite to the extent that they were in the pre-World War II era.

They also suffered a loss of prestige to the point that it became expedient to avoid public offices at all costs so as not to attract anymore blame for failed policies. Still, the wealthy wanted to remain close to the seats of power and the infantile US Intelligence community held much promise. Thus, the OSS was quickly taken over by a cabal of Wall Street lawyers like Dulles, William 'Wild Bill' Donovan and Frank Wisner along with old money families like the Morgans, DuPonts and Mellons. Thus, when the CIA emerged as one of the most powerful institutes in both the United States and abroad, with virtually no oversight whatsoever from the United States government, the old guard was well positioned to dictate its policies.

By all accounts CIA was more than happy to have them on board. When one considers how individuals such as Allen Dulles, with long standing ties to Wall Street, deliberately subverted official US foreign policy to achieve their own ends (such as importing Nazi war criminals, as I noted before here) one can't help but wonder if the rise of the US Intelligence community in the 1950s represented a kind of coup de tet in which America's monied interest took back control of US foreign policy. But I digress.

Having established the Mellon family's ties to the US Intelligence community, I'd like to move along to one of the most influential and mysterious figures in the 1960s drug scene: William Mellon Hitchcock. Hitchcock was the grandson of William Larimer Mellon and grand nephew of Andrew Mellon. Hitchcock crops up time again in some of the strangest places throughout the 1960s. His first significant appearance was in the midst of the notorious Profumo Affair, a scandal that toppled the government of British Prime Minster Harold Macmillan. Secretary of State for War John Profumo had been having an affair with high end escort Christine Keller who was also sleeping with Yevgeni Ivanov, a Soviet naval attache stationed at the Russian embassy in London, at the same time. There were even some theories that JFK himself was also sleeping with Keller.

William Mellon Hitchcock (right)

A key figure in the Profumo affair was Stephen Ward, an osteopath and artist, who had introduced Profumo to Keller. Ward seems to have been running an upscale escort service that catered to British VIPs and had ties to at least one major intelligence agency.
"In spy parlance, this is known as a 'honey trap,' and today many suspect that Ward was doing the same thing with Christine Keller, Mandy Rice-Davies, and the other women associated with Keller (including, it is said, Mary Anne de Grimston of the Process Church of Final Judgement)... but not for Soviet intelligence. Instead, it is believed that Ward was working for British intelligence in an attempt to entrap such Soviet targets as Yevgeny Ivanov, the GRU (Russian military intelligence) rezident whose name turned up in the Profumo affair as one of Keller's lovers, causing the scandal that rocked the British government. Thus, Keller was simultaneously sleeping with both John Profumo --the British Minister of War --and Ivanov, the Soviet military intelligence officer assigned to Great Britain. And this, during the time of the Cuban missile crisis!"
(Sinister Forces Book II, Peter Levenda, pg. 319)
Dr. Stephen Ward

At the time the Profumo Affair was unfolding David Bruce, the after mentioned Mellon in-law and former OSS man, was the US Ambassador to England. By 1962 Bruce was becoming uneasy about allegations he was hearing in regards to Profumo and decided he needed to get to the bottom of it. Thus he dispatched Thomas Corbally, a mysterious and elusive businessman, and William Mellon Hitchcock, his nephew by marriage, to a meeting with Ward to get the straight dope. Reportedly Corbally (and presumably Hitchcock) left this meeting convinced that the allegations surrounding Profumo were true. They informed Bruce, who in turn informed British PM Macmillan... but not the US State Department.
"Why did Ambassador David Bruce not report the details of the Ward scenario to his putative masters in the United States? What was the role of his wealthy in-law, William Mellon Hitchcock, in the affair? Was Thomas Corbally actually working for Bruce (via Billy Hitchcock?) when he began spying on Dr. Ward? What was Corbally --at the time over fifty years old --doing hanging out in London with William Hitchcock, who was at the time only in his twenties? The suave, urbane international businessman Corbally with a hip, young stockbroker like Hitchcock? One imagines that money would be a passion they shared; another might be intrigue."
(ibid, pg. 320)
Hitchcock's role in the Profumo affair has never been subjected to an in depth analysis. The same cannot be said of the role he played in the rise of LSD in the United States during the 1960s. It all began shortly after Hitchcock's part in the Profumo Affair was over with. From there he would go on to become the chief financial patron of the legendary LSD guru Timothy Leary. Leary was in a bit of a bind at the time. He had recently been fired by Harvard and needed somewhere for himself and his psychedelic hanger-ons to continue their 'experiments.' Fortunately Hitchcock had just the place.
"He first turned on to LSD after his sister, Peggy... introduced him to Leary. They hit it off immediately, and Hitchcock made his family's four-thousand-acre estate in Dutchess County, New York, available to the psychedelic clan for a nominal five-hundred-dollar monthly rent. At the center of the estate sat a turreted sixty-four-room mansion known as Millbrook, surrounded by polo fields, stables, beautiful pine forests, tennis courts, a lake, a large gatehouse, and a picturesque fountain. Two hours from New York City by car, this idyllic spread served as the grand backdrop for the next phase of the chemical crusade."
(Acid Dreams, Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shlain, pgs. 97-98)
Leary at Millbrook

Leary's time at Milbrook, from roughly 1963 till 1966, became the stuff of legends.
"In many ways the scene at Millbrook was like a fairy tale. The mansion itself was beautifully furnished with Persian carpets, crystal chandeliers, and a baronial fireplace, and all the rooms were full of elaborate psychedelic art. There were large aquariums with unusual fish, while other animals --dogs, cats, goats --wandered freely through the house. People stayed up all night tripping and prancing around the estate... Everyone was always either just coming down from a trip or planning to take one. Some dropped acid for ten days straight, increasing the dosage and mixing in other drugs. Even the children and dogs were said to have taken LSD."
(ibid, pg. 99)
The one person who seemed out of place at Millbrook was Hitchcock himself, who kept his distance from Leary's clan.
"Billy Hitchcock, the millionaire padrone, never really entered into the close camaraderie of the Millbrook circle. He lived a half-mile from the 'big-hose' in his own private bungalow, a four-bedroom gardener's cottage with a Japanese bath in the basement. There he carried on a social life befitting a scion of one of the country's wealthiest families. Hitchcock never totally broke with his old routines even though he had begun to turn on. He still kept in close contact with his friends in New York and with various brokers and investors who visited his bungalow for private parties... Hitchcock would usually be on the phone all morning talking with Swiss and Bahamian bankers, setting up business meetings and fast-money deals. By afternoon he had taken care of his monetary affairs and would occasionally join the scene at the mansion...
"Hitchcock got along well with Leary and often joined the acid fellowship in group trips. At times he became very emotional and vulnerable on LSD. One night he had to be reassured that he did indeed own the estate. But unlike the others, Mr. Billy tended not to verbalize his feelings. He never developed any metaphysical system about the LSD experience, which was rather peculiar since everyone at Millbrook was into some kind of half- or full-cocked philosophy. Hitchcock's interest in LSD did not appear to be a simple matter of spiritual enrichment. He was not one to wax poetic over the prospect of merging with the Oversoul. When asked at the outset of one group session what question he wanted answered by the acid trip, he replied, 'How can I make more money on the stock market?'"
(ibid, pgs. 99-100)
Leary (left) and Hitchcock

Unsurprisingly, Hitchcock's motives for backing Leary and his commune at Millbrook are rather hazy.
"Why Hitchcock decided to throw his weight behind the psychedelic cause is still something of a mystery. Was he simply a millionaire acid buff, a wayward son of the ruling class who dug Leary's trip? Or did he have something else up his sleeve? 'Mr. Billy,' as his servants affectionately called him, claimed he got involved with LSD because kicking the establishment in the teeth was exciting. Of course, since Hitchcock was the establishment, some questioned what he was really up to. Michael Hollingshead, for one, never fully trusted him."
(ibid, pg. 100)
Of course, there were some rather sinister overtones to Leary's experiments at Millbrook as well.
"Leary's basic aim behind the psychedelic experiences was to erase previous conditioning --what he called 'imprints', borrowing from the ethologist Konrad Lorenz. Lorenz observed that soon after hatching, ducklings learn to follow real or foster parents. Lorenz proved his thesis by appearing before some newly hatched Mallards. Lorenz quacked, the new borns imprinted him and followed accordingly...
"Leary applied Lorenz's theory to human society. Human beings in mid-twentieth-century America had imprinted a whole mess of crippling behaviour patterns. His job was to undo these, and provide new ones."
(Turn Off Your Mind, Gary Lachman, pgs. 180-181
At Millbrook Leary would attempt to 'de-condition' the residents while in the midst of tripping. This of course bares remarkable similarities to some of the experiments the CIA attempted in the 1950s with LSD such as Ewen Cameron's 'psychic driving' technique. According to Lachman Leary's attempts at de-conditioning were by and large a failure but this hasn't stopped some from speculating that Leary had some kind of ties to the CIA.

By 1967 the Millbrook scene was collapsing. The place was under 24 hour police surveillance making many of the residents, but most especially Billy Htichcock, most uneasy. Mr. Billy decided that it was time for a change of scenery. Hitchcock gave Leary a $14,000 parting check after evicting everyone from his house and  headed off for the Bay Area, then the capital of Hippiedom thanks to the nonstop media coverage the Summer of Love had received.

Hitchcock seemingly became involved in the LSD market there almost upon arrival. His timing was of course highly fortuitous. Owsley 'Bear' Stanley, the legendary LSD chemist who was the first private individual to manufacture the drug on a mass scale, was arrested late in 1967, leaving a rather gaping hole in the LSD supply line. Hitchcock just so happened to know two chemist from the Millbrook days who were ready to step in and fill the void left by Stanley. One of them was Tim Scully, Stanley's former assistant, and the other was Nick Sand.
"Hitchcock and Scully first became acquainted when the young chemist passed through the psychedelic menagerie at Millbrook in the spring of 1967. They hit it off immediately, and Hitchcock was pleased when Scully called on him in Sausalito a few months later. They agreed to form a business partnership. Hitchcock would lend money for supplies and equipment, and Scully would synthesize LSD and other psychedelics. At first Scully proposed that they give the acid away free of charge, but his financial mentor would hear nothing of it. People wouldn't appreciate what they didn't have to pay for, Hitchcock argued, and after all, he was the boss.
"Hitchcock also bankrolled another chemist named Nick Sand, who began his illicit career making DMT, a short-acting super-psychedelic, in his bathtub in Brooklyn... When the Millbrook scene unraveled, Sand followed Hitchcock out to the Bay Area and started making STP in an underground lab in San Francisco. He would have preferred to make acid, but he was hard-pressed, as was Scully, to find ergotamine tartrate (which they referred to as 'ET'), one of the key ingredients of LSD-25. Hitchcock saw a way past the bottleneck. He contacted a European source with legitimate access, and Sand and Scully were off and running. The demand for street acid had skyrocketed ever since the Summer of Love, and these young men intended to fill the void created by Owsley's sudden demise."
(Acid Dreams, Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shlain, pg. 240)

Tim Scully (top) and Nick Sand (bottom)

It was at this point that Hitchcock also started having either indirect or direct associations with organized crime. As to the former, there was Sand's ties to the Hell's Angels.
"...Sand, the hard-nosed street tough eager for economic gain, who cultivated contacts among all manner of fringe types, including the Hell's Angels. Scully didn't want to have anything to do with the bikers, who had distributed STP for Sand..."
(ibid, pg. 241)

As to the latter, Hitchcock's group quickly developed ties with the legendary Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a quasi cult of LSD users that transformed into an international distribution ring from the late 1960s to the early 1970s.
"The saga of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love is a bizarre melange of evangelical, starry-eyed hippie dealers, mystic alchemists, and fast-money bankers. Federal investigators described them as a 'hippie Mafia' of approximately seven hundred fifty people that allegedly grossed $200,000,000. But the Brotherhood's secret network of smugglers lived by a code different from that associated with organized crime. They were fired with idealism, committed to changing the world by disseminating large quantities of psychedelics."
(ibid, pg. 236)
Wanted poster for members of the Brotherhood

The Brotherhood's association with Hitchcock would have disastrous results for many of the members but at the time it seemed like a match made in heaven.
"...a delegation of Brothers led by John Griggs first made contact with Sand and Scully. The powwow, which had been suggested by Leary, took place at Hitchcock's villa in Sausalito, with the ever-obliging Mr. Billy in attendance. The Brothers were looking for a good connection, and they couldn't have asked for a more righteous brew. A few weeks later Sand traveled south to Idylwild to finalize the arrangement.
"With the Brotherhood ready to serve as their distribution arm, Sand and Scully embarked upon a full-fledged manufacturing spree. Hitchcock bought some property in Windsor, a small town sixty miles north of San Francisco. He helped Scully move to the premises, hauling large metal drums and wooden crates full of glass beakers, Bunsen burners, flasks, rubber tubing, chromatography columns, vacuum evaporators, and bundles of semiprecious compounds --all the equipment necessary for a sophisticated drug lab."
(ibid, pg. 241)
'Farmer' John Griggs, the founder of the Brotherhood

Hitchcock was apparently so impressed with the Brotherhood's operation that he took over as their banker.
"Hitchcock served as banker for the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, although later he insisted he was nothing more than a financial adviser. In truth he had a lot to say about how things were done. According to Scully, he was involved in numerous planning sessions at his house in Sausalito... But Hitchcock never expected to make big money from LSD. He was in it more for the adventure. He enjoyed his status as the behind-the-scenes facilitator who brought people together and made connections."
(ibid, pg. 244)
It was all fun and games until 1969 when one of Hitchcock's bag men ran afoul of Customs when re-entering the United States with $100,000 in cash. Customs alerted the IRS who began sniffing around Hitchcock. It was at this point that Mr. Billy felt it best to make a strategic withdraw from the drug trade, but not before hooking the Brotherhood up with another supplier and financial 'advisor.'
"It was at this point that a mysterious figure named Ronald Hadley Stark appeared on the scene. The first time anyone had heard of Stark was when one of his emissaries turned up in New York to see Hitchcock. The man claimed to represent a large French LSD operation. He was seeking to unload his product through covert channels. Hitchcock, who was then trying to distance himself from the drug trade, directed his visitor to the Brotherhood ranch. A few weeks later Stark and his assistant traveled to Idylwild."
(ibid, pg. 248)
Ronald Stark

Stark is a most curious figure whom I shall write more on in a moment. For now, let's wrap up with Hitchcock's saga. The last notable event associated with Hitchcock, before he seemingly disappears from history, occurred in 1973 when he turned state's evidence against Sand and Scully in order to secure immunity from tax evasion and stock market malpractice charges then pending.
"The case against the Brotherhood acid chemists came to trial in San Francisco in November 1973 and lasted thirty-nine days. The trial pitted Billy Hitchcock against his former colleagues, Sand and Scully, who were accused of being the largest suppliers of LSD in the US during the late 1960s. Since Hitchcock had already been granted immunity, the defense strategy was to pin all the blame on him, portraying him as the 'Mr. Big' who single-handedly directed the entire acid operation. Hitchcock, for his part, tried to walk a fine line, giving just enough information to satisfy the prosecutors, but not enough to convict the defendants... The publicity generated by the trial crystallized in a sensational Village Voice article by Mary Jo Worth, 'The Acid Profiteers.' The article depicted Leary as a Madison Avenue huckster who was a front for Hitchcock's money. The whole psychedelic movement, according to Worth, was nothing more than a scam perpetrated by a profit-hungry clique."
(ibid, pg. 277-278)
Scully got 20 years while Sand received 15. Hitchcock received a five-year suspended sentence and a $20,000 fine, the very definition of a slap on the wrist. Thus, despite serving as the banker for the largest LSD distribution network in the world at the time, there were no real consequences for William Mellon Hitchcock.

Of course, this would hardly be the first time a rich man escaped justice in this nation, but Hitchcock's ties (both direct and indirect) to so many pivotal individuals and institutions behind the US psychedelic movement is rather striking. Was Hitchcock simply a bored heir looking for a few thrills or maybe even getting back at his upper crust upbringings? This is the view typically taken concerning Hitchcock yet it just doesn't seem to jive with what is known about him. Other than getting high, Hitchcock seemingly wanted no part of the hippie lifestyle many of his associates were embracing at the time. In fact, Hitchcock seems to have gone out of his way to maintain his establishment lifestyle. Further, Hitchcock seems to have few interests beyond making money. He reportedly didn't expect tot make much out the LSD racket yet he seems to have turned a pretty handsome profit anyway. Still, there were surely any number of other things a man with Hitchcock's status could have done to make fast money.

Was Hitchcock then working for some branch of the US Intelligence community throughout the 1960s? Certainly the possibility has much merit. As noted above, the Mellon family has rather extensive ties to the US Intelligence community and Richard Helms, the Director of the CIA from 1966 till 1973, was in regular contact with the Mellon family in Pittsburgh during this time. Incidentally, this was also the same time frame that Mr. Billy became involved with the illegal drug trade.

What's more, Hitchcock had ties to several banks with known CIA connections, some of whom he potentially used to launder funds generated by the Brotherhood.
"While William Hitchcock's intelligence role is not known to any degree of certainty... he certainly surrounded himself with spooks, mobsters and... Republicans. His deep involvement in Castle Bank and Trust is just one such instance. A CIA front in the Bahamas run by former OSS China hand (and former boss of E. Howard Hunt) Paul Helliwell, it was used as a personal bank by Richard Nixon, George .H.W. Bush, and Robert Vesco, as well as by an assortment of Republican movers-and-shakers and the occasional drug runner and Mafia don. Those who enjoy wallowing in Watergate will recall Castle Bank, but perhaps not realize that Billy Hitchcock was an important supporter of the institution.
"His similar involvement with Resorts International, a spook-front and private Republican vault, is also well-known. The history of Resorts International has been brilliantly detailed in Jim Hougan's Spooks, and we will not go into any great detail here, but it is enough to say that Resorts is in the middle of not only the Watergate affair but also a vast array of intelligence operations that include anti-Castro Cubans, Mafia bagmen, illegal campaign contributions, and money laundering. The Nixon and Rebozo involvement with Resorts is only the tip of a very old and very dirty iceberg, and Hitchcock has managed to stay quietly in the shadows of these infamous politicos.
(Sinister Forces Book II, Peter Levenda, pg. 321)
Castle Bank & Trust, a notorious CIA front William Mellon Hitchcock was heavily involved in

And all of this was apparently going on while Hitchcock was allegedly sticking it to the establishment via his drug operations. Or was it the establishment sticking it to the idealists behind the original hippie movement? Consider the man who took over Hitchcock's role in the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, Ronald Stark. While there is no conclusive evidence that Hitchcock was working for the US Intelligence community, the same cannot be said of Stark.

The fall of the Brotherhood would hardly effect Stark, who would continue as a major international drug dealer for the rest of the 1970s. He relocated to Europe and spent a decent amount of time in Italy hobnobbing with radical groups of both the left and right while continuing to cultivate drug connections spanning the globe. Stark was eventually arrested in Italy on a petty charge stemming from his involvement with various terror organizations. Just as it seemed as if Stark's luck had final run out an Italian judge made a rather startling revelation about him.
"The Italian government subsequently charged Stark with 'armed banditry' for his role in aiding and abetting terrorist activities. But he never stood trial on these charges. True to form, Stark dropped out of sight shortly after he was released from prison in April 1979 on orders from Judge Giorgio Floridia in Bologna. The judge's decision was extraordinary: he released Stark because of 'an impressive series of scrupulously enumerated proofs' that Stark was actually a CIA agent. 'Many circumstances suggest that from 1960 onwards Stark belonged to the American secret services,' Floridia stated."
(Acid Dreams, Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shlain, pg. 281)

This is just one of many mysteries surrounding Stark. Another is his alleged association with legendary cult leader Charles Manson. I've written more on Stark's association with Manson here so I shall be brief. Manson's potential links to Starks were first proposed by Maury Terry in the highly controversial The Ultimate Evil. In this work Terry alleges that Manson, as well as David 'Son of Sam' Berkowitz (among others), was a member of a nation wide cult connected to drug and (child) sex trafficking, snuff films, and contract killings. This cult, sometimes referred to as the 'Four-P Movement' or simply 'the Children,' was said to have begun as an offshoot of the Process Church of Final Judgement, a British-based outfit founded by ex-Scientologists and active throughout the United States from the mid-1960s till the early 1970s. Supposedly this cult had ties both to organized crime (specifically various 'one-percenter' MCs) as well as the US Intelligence community.

Charles Manson (top) & David Berkowitz (bottom), two of the more notorious figures linked to an underground cult network Ronald Stark may have also had dealings with

According to Terry (via Berkowitz, allegedly) Manson was either a member of, or working for, this cult when the Tate/LaBianca killings occurred.
"Berkowitz informed a fellow inmate that Manson, who belonged to the Los Angeles chapter of the cult, was working 'on orders' when he directed his Family to commit the Tate/LaBianca murders. In The Ultimate Evil, Terry places Manson --two days after the Tate murders --driving a Mercedes-Benz belonging to a big-time LSD dealer, who, in Terry's description, was 'said to have been a former Israeli who had strong links with the intelligence community.' Terry took this to be one of the truly fascinating players in LSD history: Ronald Hadley Stark. In The Ultimate Evil, Stark is identified under the alias of Chris Jetz.
"Although not an Israeli, Stark posed as one upon occasion, as he was fluent in several languages, and fond of assuming multiple identities."
(The Shadow Over Santa Susana, Adam Gorightly, pg. 163)
What I find most fascinating about William Mellon Hitchcock is how he seems to have indirect ties to the whole Process/Manson circle. As noted above, Hitchcock had some kind of link with Dr. Stephen Ward, the man who most likely ran the sex ring involved in the Profumo Affair. Reportedly one of the women involved in this sex ring (also noted above) was Mary Anne DeGrimston, who would go on to co-found the Process Church of Final Judgement with her husband, Robert. Hitchcock also had indirect ties with the Hell's Angels, who were supplied with STP by Nick Sand, a chemist he was bankrolling at the time. Outlaw MCs have long been associated with conspiracy theories surrounding the Process. Both Manson and the Process actively sought alliances with one percenters as has been well documented.

Mary Anne DeGrimston, co-founder of the Process Church of Final Judgement and a possible member of Dr. Stephen Ward's sing ring

And finally there's Hitchcock's association with Stark, a man an Italian judge ruled was a US intelligence agent and who seemingly had some kind of connection to Charles Manson. I shall wrap up this installment with a little bit of speculation: If Hitchcock was in fact a US intelligence agent, then was he serving as a handler for various 1960s fringe individuals and movements --i.e. Leary, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, the Hell's Angels, etc? Is this why then-CIA director Richard Helms was regularly meeting with the Mellon family in Pittsburgh throughout his directorship? Was he keeping tabs on Mr. Billy's operation? If so, was Stark a kind of replacement once Hitchcock became bogged down in legal entanglements? Or was it felt to be expedient to withdraw Hitchcock before things turned violent on the West Coast (i.e. the Manson killings, Altamont, etc) so as not to draw suspicion? After all, a dubious character like Stark being linked to Manson is one thing, but a member of one of America's oldest and richest families? That would certainly raise some interesting questions, such as why the wealthy were seemingly infiltrating left-leaning/populist movements on behalf of US intelligence.

Such questions will be further examined in the next installment. Stay tuned.