Sunday, September 04, 2016

Stranger Things: Uncle Sam's Secret Sorcerers II

Sharon Tate in Eye of the Devil
Did you ever dream about a place you never really recall being to before? A place that maybe only exists in your imagination? Some place far away, half remembered when you wake up. When you were there, though, you knew the language. You knew your way around.  That was the Sixties. No. It wasn't that either. It was just '66 and early '67. That's all there was. - Terry Valentine, The Limey

As we've seen--and as other articles have made note of -- Stranger Things centers on the fictional events of a real-life program, the CIA's MK-ULTRA experiments. 

But what if they're telling the wrong story?

What if the kinds of disruptions fictionalized in Stranger Things actually took place on a much larger scale, but not under the aegis of MK-ULTRA but in fact under the considerably more arcane and secretive MK-OFTEN?

MK-OFTEN is recorded variously as simple drug and chemical tests on one end of the spectrum and nothing less than the weaponization of black magic on the other.

Which interpretation is correct?

We have very little to go on as far as actual documentary evidence is concerned. But on the other hand there's an extraordinary body of circumstantial evidence arguing on behalf of OFTEN's mandate as a program to use occultism as tool of psychological warfare, if not as as vehicle for actual spellcraft. 

Concurrent with OFTENs creation we saw the increased visibility of Satanism, occultism and similar themes in the mass media, all of which took place against a backdrop of war, social discord and general unrest. Can this be simple coincidence? Or was it all building up to some crescendo?

More importantly, did OFTEN achieve its goals? And does a similar program exist today?


1967 saw the so-called "Summer of Love", a whole-cloth media creation focusing on the burgeoning counter-culture in San Francisco. Thousands of kids would swarm to the city, with a rapacious army of pushers, pimps and predators hot on their heels.

The siege got so bad that the Diggers- one of the original counterculture sects- famously staged "The Death of Hippie" for the battalion of reporters descending on the city. 

The Human Be-In (the name being a takeoff on "sit-in" protests at universities) in Golden Gate Park is generally credited as the inaugural event in the Summer of Love. Coincidentally- or perhaps not so coincidentally- news broke the same day that the US Army had been conducting secret germ warfare experiments in New York City subways.

And there you have a perfect metaphor for 1967.

The year began with the horrific deaths of Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chafee, the astronauts of Apollo 1, who were incinerated on the launchpad in a blaze.

Grissom's family claimed was deliberately set to silence the astronaut, a prominent critic of the Apollo program. A virtual of parade of astronauts and NASA employees would meet similar ends in the coming years.

1967 saw a series of devastating riots in major American metropolises like Newark, Minneapolis, Detroit, and Milwaukee, conflagrations that some cities would never truly recover from.

Detroit- the great workshop of American industry- was mortally wounded, and competition from Japan and Germany, as well as Globalist outsourcing, would deliver its death blow in the 1980s.

And the war in Viet Nam raged on, killing hundreds of thousands of that country's people and tens of thousands of American soldiers, in a war that accomplished nothing but death and division.

Later a claim would be made that the war was simply an exercise, a program for the officer corps to acquire the combat experience needed for the hot war with the Soviet Union that Powers-That-Be felt was inevitable in the 1960s.

As the war effort faltered, the CIA instituted Operation Phoenix, a program of torture, terror and political assassination. 

And of course, mind control. 

Speaking of which…

The Internet is afire with theories claiming MK-ULTRA agents (with considerable help from the British) "created the counterculture", gleefully ignoring the long history of antecedents predating the hippies (including the Beats, with whom the distinction from the early hippies is murky and entirely indistinct, and who were making mushroom pilgrimages to Mexico as early as the 1940s) and the 19th Century Bohemians (not to mention the Wandervogel and Ascona ).

Hell, if you really want to get picky about it you can trace the counterculture back to the Anabaptists. And beyond.

This conspiracist theory of the counterculture was first proposed in 1978 by neoconservative columnist David Goldman (aka "Spengler") in the book Dope, Inc., published by the Lyndon LaRouche organization, but has been revived more recently by other researchers.

The current take on Goldman's thesis has it that the CIA created the psychedelic movement to depoliticize the youth movement, and turn them all into navel-gazing couch potatoes and/or anti-modern cavemen.

If so, the CIA was spectacularly unsuccessful. 

Hells Angels facing off with
antiwar protesters in 1967

The original psychedelic movement didn't even survive to the end of 1967. Indeed, it seemed to wilt under mass media attention. And in its place would be a distinctly more militant and activist counterculture.

And to the caveman bit, Deadheads would play no small part in the personal computer and Internet revolutions. As would acidheads like Steve Jobs.

And the protest movements? Cops, hardhats and bikers were beating up on antiwar protesters nearly from day one, despite the frankly-bizarre modern mythology of a respectable movement grudgingly admired by its opponents.


The Beatles rang in the season with their Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band LP (released June 1st) but would distance themselves from LSD and hippie culture before the "Summer of Love" was even over. 
At the height of the Summer of Love and the popularity of the band's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, (George) Harrison, (Derek) Taylor and their small entourage visited the international "hippie capital" of Haight-Ashbury, in San Francisco, on 7 August. 
Harrison had expected to encounter an enlightened community engaged in artistic pursuits and working to create a viable alternative lifestyle; instead, he was disappointed that Haight-Ashbury appeared to be populated by drug addicts, dropouts and "hypocrites". 
The disappointment was contagious within the band:
Following his return to England two days later, (Harrison) shared his disillusionment about Haight-Ashbury with John Lennon, soon after which the Beatles publicly denounced the popular hallucinogen LSD (or "acid") and other drugs in favour of Transcendental Meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. 
Indeed, The Beatles would ditch all the trappings of psychedelia after the poorly-received Magical Mystery Tour TV film, and release a self-titled double LP in 1968 that would focus on a variety of straightforward musical styles, from heavy rock to music hall to pop. More importantly, the album's artwork would entirely eschew psych or pop convention, leading fans to refer to it as "The White Album."

The band would decamp to India to study TM with the Maharishi shortly after. Accompanying them would be none other than Mia Farrow.

London's psychedelic mecca, The UFO Club at the Roundhouse, closed in October of 1967, but most of the psych bands had already begun evolving into 'prog rock' and/or proto-metal anyway. 

The Stones' very tardy foray into psych, Their Satanic Majesty's Request, was roundly panned on release and seen as the final nail in the movement's coffin.

In 1968, Psychedelia was out and rootsy blues and country rock and folky singer/songwriter music were on the ascendant in mainstream circles. 

Jefferson Airplane-- the real standard bearers of San Francisco counterculture at the time-- abandoned psych for mainstream rock on Crown of Creation (1968) and explicitly political yet otherwise conventional rock on Volunteers (1969) 

The Grateful Dead were a commercial nonentity until they ditched psych for country-rock (on David Crosby's suggestion that the Dead return to the simple folk songs that first inspired them to play because their music had gotten too "far out") on Workingman's Dead in 1970. Pink Floyd remained an underground act until their lounge-rock move on Dark Side of the Moon.

Tarty Carnaby Street mod getups were ditched towards the end of 1967 in favor of updated versions of the Davy Crockett and Tonto outfits popular with suburban kids in the 1950s, along with ironic appropriation of surplus military gear filtering into local Army/Navy discount outlets.

"Authenticity" was the new grail, not innerspace exploration. Or did all this signal a return to the simple pleasures of Fifties American childhood after the nerve-wracking uncertainty of psychedelia?

click to enlarge

San Francisco's hippie dream soon became a nightmare with endless hassles from cops, hardhats, bikers, and black residents of the Fillmore district, who resented the hippies' encroachment (a preview of sorts for the relentless gentrification that would later drive much of SF's black population out of the city). 

On the street, LSD was giving way to STP, a cut-rate hallucinogenic amphetamine with a boatload of negative side effects, and plain old bathtub speed.

Bands started playing faster and louder and longer as the new drugs took hold, setting the stage for early heavy metal.*

R.Crumb, who was there

But speed soon gives rise to paranoia and aggression (it was, after all, manufactured by the Nazis for use by the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe). As the bad vibes festered, many of the more ideological hippies began decamping from the cities and forming communes in rural areas.

Those who stayed behind would be swamped by the tidal wave of Golden Triangle heroin that started flooding American cities at the end of the 1960s.

Kind of like today. 


And all those Laurel Canyon musicians you've heard so much about?

Nearly all of them were part of the so-called "soft rock" movement, the radio-friendly reaction against "acid rock" (a catch-all phrase for guitar-based hard rock that lingered into the 70s) which the record companies pushed relentlessly in the late 60s and early 70s, forcing most of the harder rock bands off the airwaves.

Dozens of previously successful rock 'n' roll acts, deprived of oxygen, broke up or faded into obscurity. The next wave of hard rock bands would make their bones by constant touring and often, outrageous gimmicks and/or stage shows to get attention (Alice Cooper, KISS, Queen, Blue Oyster Cult).

And of course you had a wave of early deaths, particularly many of the most influential and charismatic figures in rock music like Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, guitar god Jimi Hendrix, Pigpen (lead singer and organist for the Grateful Dead), The Rolling Stones' Brian Jones, Gram Parsons and guitar hero Duane Allman.

So what's the real story?

The CIA and the MK-ULTRA program certainly had more than their share of connections to the counterculture and the drug movement, but careful analysis shows it was an exploitation of, and interference with, a milieu that had been established for a very long time and had caused no end of mass moral panics long before there even was a CIA. 

So claiming the CIA invented the counterculture is like claiming they created prostitution because they ran so many ops out of brothels.

Process "sabbath" in San Francisco

The CIA didn't create Satanism, black magic or Apocalypticism either, but they may well have exploiting these to great effect in the 1960s and beyond. 

With the media-darling Church of Satan, the mysteriously-flush Process Church and Ford Foundation and Getty-funded Kenneth Anger all up and running in 1966 (or "Year Zero"), another pawn would be put onto the board. 

By the end of the 60s he'd place the counterculture in an entirely different light for America's Silent Majority. 

In 1967, lifetime con Charlie Manson had been let out of prison and he made a beeline for the mass open-air party taking place in San Francisco. And he would find himself living in an interesting neighborhood. Gary Lachman wrote in Fortean Times:
(The Process Church) set up a church at 407 Cole Street. Their neighbour at 636 Cole was someone who would cause them a lot of grief in a year or so. His name was Charles Manson, soon to become the head of the Family responsible for the gruesome Tate-Labianca murders in August of 1969. At that time, 
Charlie was still an ex-con petty thief, strumming a guitar among the debris of the flower children, languishing amidst the ruins of the Summer of Love. By the end of the decade he was one of the most famous people alive, a cause célèbre in the counter-culture, Satan incarnate for the Establishment.
The question remains, did Manson have ties to the Process? It's shrouded in mystery to this day. 

But, curiously enough, Manson would go from being just another drifter and ex-con to a mind-controlling apocalyptic ideologue after his alleged encounters with the Process.

Adam Gorightly writes in Paranoia magazine:
One of the more controversial assertions I’ve heard suggesting contact between Manson and The Process comes courtesy of John Parker’s Polanski, which claims that Manson was a regular visitor at The Process headquarters on Cole Street, “reaching the fourth of the six levels of initiation, that of ‘prophet.'” At the end of 1968, he was established as a leader of a group which he called “Satan’s Slaves.” 
Manson apparently crossed paths on occasion with another famous San Francisco occultist, Bobby Beausoleil, then living with Kenneth Anger on Haight. Beausoleil and Manson were part of an itinerant circle that seemed to drift on the California coast, sometimes living in SF, sometimes in LA. 

Beausoleil would head for LA when things went sour with Anger, who put a curse on his young protege. There Beausoleil would move in with a school teacher and part-time drug dealer named Gary Hinman.

Of course, it was in LA that all Hell broke loose. But let's save that story for later.


Ritual magic would reemerge in 1967 in San Francisco with New Reformed Order of the Golden Dawn. 

Two years later, Grady McMurtry (aka "Hymenaeus Alpha"), a former Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army, would properly re-establish the Ordo Templi Orientis in America, claiming right of succession through Crowley himself. 

As Peter Levenda mentioned, another OTO lodge- the scandalous Solar Lodge - would start operations in Los Angeles around the same time as the SF group. They'd make headlines for child abuse and other offenses at the same time the Manson Family was in the news.

"In one of our conversations during the Tate-Labianca trial, I asked Manson if he knew Robert Moore, or Robert DeGrimston. He denied knowing DeGrimston, but said he had met Moore. 'You're looking at him,' Manson told me. 'Moore and I are one and the same.'- Vincent Bugliosi
Alex Constantine wrote of the lodge:
The group subscribed to a grim, apocalyptic view of the world precipitated by race wars, and the prophecy made a lasting impression on Charles Manson, who passed through the lodge.  
So the Manson picture becomes a little clearer. He wasn't just some random ex-con, he had contact with Scientologists on the inside, and the powerful, apocalyptic cult mind-control of the Process and the Solar OTO when he got out.

That goes a long way in explaining what he became.  

Now, you don't need to fall in with some of the more outlandish theories about the Process Church or the OTO's involvement in the Manson killings to recognize the toxic power of the propaganda they were pumping out (in especially powerful form, in the case of the Process), the effect it had on marginal characters like Manson or the dodgier details of their CVs.

There's far too much smoke hovering around the Process to dismiss them as just another nutty but harmless cult. And there is certainly more than enough evidence to speculate that they were a front for a much nastier operation, as these groups so often are.

Note blurb by Truman Capote,


Novelist Ira Levin, a veteran of the Army Signal Corps, released Rosemary's Baby in 1967, a supernatural thriller about a young Catholic housewife chosen to bear Satan's child.

Levin originally wanted the story to be about a woman who gave birth to an alien, but felt The Village of the Damned had already cornered that market.

Rosemary would be made into a film the following year by Roman Polanski, who originally wanted to cast his new wife Sharon Tate in the lead role, having worked with her in the film Fearless Vampire Killers.

Anton LaVey would make a number of claims of involvement with Rosemary, all of which were denied by its producers.

What should be noted is that the Signal Corps conducted Project Diana, in which radar signals (radar again) were bounced off the Moon, at the exact same time Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard- then both members of the Agape Lodge of the OTO-  were conducting the Babalon Working, whose ultimate goal was to give birth to the Antichrist.

Just a little coincidence for you to chew on there.


“I feel guilty that ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ led to ‘The Exorcist,’ ‘The Omen,’” Levin later told The Los Angeles Times, “A whole generation has been exposed, has more belief in Satan. I don’t believe in Satan. And I feel that the strong fundamentalism we have would not be as strong if there hadn’t been so many of these books.”

Interesting. Was this a confession of sorts?

What we do know for certain is that Levin is giving himself too much credit here: he was working a well-seeded tract with Rosemary. There was no shortage of Satanic and witch cult movies (and books) in the late Fifties and Sixties, many of them imports from Europe that enjoyed heavy rotation on "Creature Feature"-type TV shows. 

1966 alone saw two British films dealing with secret satanic cults: Nigel Kneale's The Witches, which had a teacher discover a human-sacrifice cult in a small town, and the similarly-themed Eye of the Devil, which starred David Niven, David Hemmings and Sharon Tate. 

There'd be more like this before and after Rosemary, like Leslie Stevens' Incubus (an occult working in and of itself, also released in 1966), Night of the Demon (featuring a thinly-veiled analog of Aleister Crowley and one of those Stranger Things tulpas), Burn, Witch, Burn (1962), The Devil Rides Out (based on the 1934 novel by the one-man Satanic publishing mill Dennis Wheatley) and Curse of the Crimson Altar (written by Holy Blood, Holy Grail cowriter Henry Lincoln and peppered with oddly-incongruous UFOlogy riffs).

Rosemary's Baby is a great novel and arguably an even greater movie, but it was hardly alone in summoning up the Satanic Panic. Satan was a pretty busy fellow in the 1960s.

In fact, Anton LaVey is in many ways responsible for the novel and film's success, since he did so much to put Satanism on the front burner in 1966, along with the national media and whoever was backing him and his organization.

It's possible- even probable- LaVey's notoriety inspired Levin to write the book in the first place.

Andrija Puharich (left) at Edgewood


America got its first full dose of Ancient Astronaut Theory in 1967 with the Star Trek episode, "Who Mourns for Adonais", which featured actor Michael Forest as Apollo, the self-proclaimed father of the human race.

Like so many Trek personnel, Forest had previously starred on a pivotal (and Paperclip-themed) episode of The Outer Limits, providing further tantalizing evidence (along with the actual storyline, which flew directly in the face of Roddenberry's stated ideals) of Leslie Stevens' covert involvement with the iconic sci-fi series.

Further evidence of CIA involvement with Star Trek would come when a thinly-veiled analog of the Council of Nine made their television debut in the episode, "Errand of Mercy".

The ep was directed by (MKULTRA chemist) Andrija Puharich's protege John Newland, an influential industry figure who took magic mushrooms on national television on his anthology series, One Step Beyond. 

In 1961.

"Errand's" storyline came straight out of the original Round Table Nine channelings, just in case there was any doubt what was being processed here. Evidence that Puharich had moved his operation under the OFTEN aegis will be explored later in this series.

BSG by the great Frank Frazetta

Stevens would combine the space opera of Star Trek (via Star Wars) and the AAT of "Adonais" 10 years later when he ghostwrote the pilot for Battlestar Galactica for Glen Larson.

One of the tells? The planets being named after zodiacal signs, anathema to a devout Mormon like Larson but a no-brainer to an occult-drenched operator like Stevens.

And what's this?

Leslie Stevens was the son of the powerful and influential Admiral Leslie Stevens, the first director of the CIA's Joint Subsidiary Plans Division, which coordinated its psychological warfare efforts with its covert operations. 


Think about that before your next Outer Limits rewatch, with its numerous Paperclip, MKULTRA and MJ12 allusions (long before the public at large knew of any of these programs).  

Telling tales out of school, indeed.


Nigel Kneale's Five Million Years to Earth was also released in 1967, a remake of his milestone TV miniseries from the late 50s, Quatermass and the Pit.

Kneale leavened his AAT with heavy doses of occultism and devilry, a brew that undoubtedly gave the story a much harder kick than it might have otherwise carried (see Ancient Aliens for contrast).

The Invaders, Quinn Martin's prestige treatment of the UFO issue starring Roy Thinnes and a roll call of TV's frontline character acting talent, made its debut in January of 1967. The series would run for only two seasons but would reach a cult following in Europe and South America. 

Susan Oliver and some other guy
 on The Invaders' series finale

The Invaders' suggestion of the covert colonization of Earth by a hostile, technologically-superior alien race would have no small influence on The X-Files. The series would also employ a number of old Leslie Stevens hands, a fact to keep in mind going forward.

With all this in the air, the fields would be well-tilled for Erich Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods?, released in 1968. Despite the universal howls of tortured agony from academia and the scientific community, the book would go on to sell more than 40 million copies worldwide.


In keeping with the theme of tulpa-like creatures invading our reality, which we see in the Montauk mythos as well as in Stranger Things, 1967 would see its own intruders, invasions that would reverberate in the darkest recesses of the public imagination for decades to come.

The so-called Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film, allegedly depicting a female protohominid strolling on the shore of a California lake, was taken in October of 1967 and has been the focus of red-hot contention ever since.

Skeptics have attacked the unlikely convenience of its very existence as well as the human-like gait of the creature. Advocates have noted longheld reports from Native Americans that Sasquatch "walked like a man" and pointed to the anatomical anomalies (the pendulous breasts, the disproportionate arms) and the naturalism of the hair. 

It's an argument that will never be settled.

What else happened in 1967? The Age of Animal Mutilation began, when a horse named Snippy was found dead, mutilated with bafflingly surgical injuries by its owners in Colorado. A wave of mutilations would grip the American West in the 1970s, often accompanied by reports of strange lights and black helicopters in the sky. 

Skeptics would (weakly) claim the mutilated animals were the victims of ordinary predators but failed to explain exactly why predators would be causing such bizarre and precise woundings all of a sudden, after hundreds of years of interaction with livestock in the area. 

When that argument failed, elusive hordes of scapel-waving Satanic cultists were fingered for the killings. 

Ranchers didn't buy that explanation either.

Were the producers of Stranger Things referencing these killings- consciously or otherwise- with the monster's predation of deer? 

And at the end of 1967 the Mothman saga in Point Pleasant came to a horrific end when the Silver Bridge collapsed, drowning 46 people in the icy Ohio River. Mothman had been sighted- and even photographed- atop the bridge prior to the tragedy.

The events would be collected into a best-selling book by John Keel and later into a feature film starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney. Gere played a reporter whose wife suddenly takes ill and dies, setting off a series of events that lead him to Point Pleasant.

Not long after The Mothman Prophecies' release, the wife of the film's director suddenly took ill and died. The eerie co-incidence has not escaped the attention of Mothman theorists.


*Detroit's MC5, who were faster, louder and more radical than anybody else at the time, played for eight hours outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. Two of the three key members would die of heart failure in their mid-40s. The third went to prison for dealing cocaine.