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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 7, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta 32 THE IETHBRIDGE HERAtD ThurttJoy, J'jne 7, 1973 Killings linked to devil worship DAYTONA BEACH. Fla. CAP1 Late last month the body of 17-year-old Ross (Mike) Cochran was found in a thicket of scrub pine and palmetto out- side town. It was bloody pulp, battered by heavy chains and suited by jagged glass. The verdict of police is that Cochran was the victim of dsvil v.-orshippers: Killed in a fren- zied sacrificial ritual while strapped to an altar in the base- ment of a broken-down apart- ment. In. the week after the body found, police arrested 10 beach drifters and charged them with first-degree murder. The killing was the latest in a series of murders linked to devil worship. Two cases were reported by police in New Jer- sey in the last 18 months. The deaths raised a new ques- tions about a multi-million-dol- lar occult revival sweeping the United States. In the last decade witchcraft hj-s merged from underground as a religious phenomenon with broad-based appeal to scholars, self-proclaimed witchss. devil worshippers and the dis- enchanted subculture. Bill Heim, a University of South Florida professor and long-time student of the occult, calls violent acts ''the idiot fringe of occultism." "It sounds like kids turned on by weird tales on dime store magazine racks picturing young women with their guts torn out by werewolves" he said. The occult renaissance first became apparent in the as- trology boom a few years back. Today it has stretched to the edge of science in fields of parapsychology and extra- sensory perception. From San Francisco and New York City the occultists have gravitated inland, gaining new footholds in Minnesota and cen- tral Florida. Llewellyn Publications of Minneapolis claims a million- dcllar business last year in serious occult literature. In larger cities, mail-order houses and numerous novelty shops do a booming trade in oc- cult curios. Dabblers in the black arts can buy hooded black velvet robes as apiece for living room sorcery. There is aeresol "prayer spray" to chase away devils and black herb candles to summon them. There are numerous offers of home-magic books, crash pro- grams in palmistry, and as- trological games. And tiiere are witchcraft diploma mills spe- cializing in home study. STUDY. Minneapolis is fast gaining a reputation as the centre for modern American witchcraft. Devotees there are offering adult education courses in the occult and at the fall equinox each September witches from across the U.S. converge for the Gnostic Festival. Gnosticism embraces several heretical sects whose adherents claim a deeper knovt ledge and trace be- g'nnings to pre-Christian times. In New York there's a witches' liberation movement. ATTRACT ODDBALLS Heim says the blitz of sensual trappings and ominious de- monic portrayals has attracted some people with masochistic tendencies and spawned half- baked spinoffs from a serious, legitimate movement. Flagellations are part of ritual in many covens. But the are done in a sym- bolic sense, reminiscent of an- cient Christian practice to scorn the flesh, he said. Heim traces roots of modern American witchcraft to the hip- pie movement of the 1960s. Youth revolted against the es- tablishment, groping for a phi- 1 o s o p h y to replace dis- enchantement. Some turned to Christianity. Ths Jesus freaks evolved. Some probed deeper into Eastern religions. The progression eventually led to belief in hidden or mysterious powers subject to human control. True covens rejected narcot- ics as artificial stimulus. defeats the whole purpose of magic which is to assert the power of the individual mind to use one's own will and mental Heim said. 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