By Mike Gleason
Witch Hunts: Out of the Broom Closet, by Kerr Cuhulain
Spiral Publishing, 9780975540367, 302 pp. (incl. appendices and bibliography), 2005
Kerr Cuhulain is a twenty-seven year veteran of the Vancouver, BC, Police Department. He has seen, first hand, the results of the misunderstandings, both unintended and intentional, regarding Pagan beliefs – lives ruined, families destroyed, and religious agendas advanced.
The first few pages of this book are enough to frighten even the most jaded among us. From several “official sources” he cites evidence of occult activity to be looked for such as jewellery, gongs, audio/visual recording equipment, music with an occult theme, candles, silver implements, incense, needles, oil, seashells, and the list goes on. Amazing! If you use massage oils and candles to enhance your lovemaking you too can be considered a Satanist.
Having been an active member of the Craft community for nearly as long as Kerr has been in law enforcement (I wasn’t very active in my early days) I’ve run across a lot of these allegations myself. I am always amazed that (allegedly) intelligent individuals can be taken in by them.
I found a number of editing errors in this book which, unfortunately, seems to be an increasing problem in many of the current crop of books. In this case, they mostly consist of dropped words. I’m not sure if this is better or worse than the improper spacing which I see quite frequently.
Unfortunately, another common editing error I saw was the frequent misuse of the apostrophe (as in “it’s” instead of “its”). Not a huge problem, I’ll admit, but since Kerr is quick to point out the unprofessional aspects of the Satanic Conspiracy advocates and the “occult experts” in their publications it bears correcting in the next edition of this work.
I was also disappointed to see one mis-attribution in the text (Arthur Edward Waite is cited as Edgar Arthur Waite on page 161) although the correct name is given in the bibliography.
Over the past couple of years I have read and reviewed a few books intended as resources to help Wiccans explain themselves and their beliefs to family and friends (Wicca Demystified and When Someone You Love is Wiccan, for example). This is the first book I have seen which is aimed at helping Wiccans to deal with those in authority (other than Kerr’s first book (Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca). Every once in a while I recommend that readers of my reviews purchase an extra copy of a book (to donate to local libraries, for instance). Well, in this case I suggest that, as well as getting one for yourself, you also purchase a copy to give to the your local police department. Whether or not they will pay any attention, I don’t know. I suspect they may, given Kerr’s background.
While I don’t always agree with Kerr’s definitions or terminology I do have to say that they come far closer to the understanding of most Wiccans I know than the drivel put out by the a lot of the “experts” the law enforcement community relies upon.
Kerr repeatedly points out the tendency for the “experts” to mix together wishful thinking and inability to discriminate between fantasy and reality in their definitions and interpretations. for instance, if I were Terry Brooks, I would be asking these folks for compensation since they use creations of his “Shannara” series in their lists of demons. Then again, I imagine that these experts see these books as recruiting tools, just like “D&D,” “Rainbow Brite,” and “Captain Planet.”
In the final chapter he gives some suggestions about how to “come out,” if you are so inclined. He then follows it with a short glossary and a bibliography.