RELIGION

A question of witchcraft

JANE O'HARA July 4 1988
RELIGION

A question of witchcraft

JANE O'HARA July 4 1988

A question of witchcraft

RELIGION

The libel trial before the B.C. Supreme Court has featured testimony that touches on satanic and sexual rituals, witchcraft and drug use. Since it began on June 6, curious onlookers and followers of arcane religions have filled Victoria’s Courtroom A to capacity. In his lawsuit, Lion Serpent Sun, 38, a self-appointed Gnostic bishop—and a student of an ancient system of belief that holds that secret revelations are essential to salvationis seeking unspecified damages from televangelist David Mainse, as well as from Vancouver youth worker Leonard Olsen. Sun, who changed his name from Mark Fedoruk, has testified that he was libelled on seven broadcasts of Mainse’s Toronto-based religious program, 100 Huntley Street. On the first of those broadcasts, on Nov. 22, 1984, Mainse and Olsen told viewers that Olsen had barely escaped from Sun’s Satanic organization, a socalled coven.

Indeed, in that appearance on the Huntley show, Olsen said that on Oct. 14, 1972, coven members had requested that he and his wife, Sheila, become voluntary human sacrifices. In a videotape of that program, which was shown to the courtroom, Olsen said: “I looked in these faces and the people we thought we knew in this coven. And I saw these demons. Their whole bodies and faces were transformed, and I realized I was almost in hell.” But Sun’s lawyer,

Robert Moore-Stewart, is trying to prove that the events that Olsen described were in fact drug-induced hallucinations. “He has literalized and scripturalized a bad trip,” declared Moore-Stewart. “They were benign rituals, followed by partying.”

The defendants have

tried to show that Sun was a devilworshipper and a follower of the teachings of famed British satanist leader Aleister Crowley, who died in 1947. But Sun, who took the stand last week, denied those allegations. Before

delivering his testimony in a trial that could last well into July, Sun was sworn in on two books—one of them Isaac Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, the other a collection of writings that included Gnostic texts. At one point during his appearance last week, Sun objected to what he called his sacred implements —a sword, symbolic scourge, statue and chalice—being entered as exhibits. Said Sun: “I’m upset watching my ritual implements go by every day on a shopping cart.” z The court has already 3 heard a different ver| sion of a ceremony that, 8 Olsen said, almost re$ suited in his becoming a 5 blood offering. Accordai ing to Gary Gage-Cole, £ Sun’s friend and fellow

coven member, 12 people were involved in a ceremony in the so-called Ritual Room of the Diddling Metaphysical Bookstore—Sun’s Victoria shop. And, after concluding that event, the men and women present had a party. Added Gage-Cole: “We were sky-clad at the time.” When asked by lawyer Moore-Stewart to explain that term, Gage-Cole responded, “We had no clothes on.”

In further testimony, Gage-Cole said that the group had performed a dramatization of a Greek myth entitled “Descent of the goddess into the underworld.” That ritual began with the words “Our Lord, the horned one.” Then, he said, various people in the coven played different characters. Sun’s wife at the time, Judith, took the part of Persephone, a daughter of Zeus whom Hades kidnapped and forced to rule as queen of the underworld. Then, said Gage-Cole, she was “symbolically bound and scourged.” Another part of the ritual involved an act called the “fivefold kiss,” in which Sun kissed Judith on her feet, knees, abdomen, z breasts and lips.

3 After those rituals, I Gage-Cole said, the cele8 brations began with coí ven members drinking 5 wine, smoking marijua§ na and eating salmon sandwiches while they sat within a circle that supposedly contained magic powers. Then, said Gage-Cole, “things started going crazy.” He testified that Olsen had been drinking and smoking heavily. And he testified that he recalled Olsen saying, “They’re all demons”—a repeated declaration that prompted Sun and other participants to bring the ceremony to its traditional conclusion—by gently waving ritual daggers. That action, added Gage-Cole, prompted Olsen to yell, “They’re going to kill us.”

As the trial continues this week, Olsen’s lawyers say that they will attempt to prove that their client’s life was in fact threatened by devil-worshippers. That alone should guarantee that Courtroom A remains the centre of Victoria’s current preoccupation with witchcraft.

JANE O'HARA

BARBARA McLINTOCK