Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lucifer Over Wales

In the 1980s Wales faced twin evils - one was Margaret Thatcher, the other was Satanism.

The moral panic over Satanism began in 1981 after a teenage suicide in the Llynfi Valley. Plastered all over the unfortunate boy's bedroom walls were black magic signs. Local churchman Rev Graham Jones talked of occult rituals taking place in a Maesteg house. Cats and dogs he said were ritually sacrificed in nearby forests. Maesteg was dubbed: a cesspit of evil.

In 1984, in the early hours of a winter's morning, a group of hooded figures was seen carrying an inverted cross through the village of Aberfan. The Rev Steve Morgan complained of an upsurge of witchcraft and Satanism in the area. Covens were operating, he reckoned, in Aberfan, Merthyr Vale, Abercanaid, Pentrebach and Troedyrhiw.

Other places strongly associated with witchcraft and Satanism were Lampeter, Abergavenny, and Caerphilly mountain. Caerphilly mountain apparently is on a leyline between the Malvern Hills and Llantwit Major.

Unemployed Welsh youths, it seemed, were turning to witchcraft in droves as an alternative to Christianity. According to the Rev Steve Morgan things started out innocently enough with astrology, ouija boards and seances but with drugs and alcohol used as enticements the kids often ended up developing severe mental health problems.

It wasn't just youths either who were getting into the occult. Recruitment parties held outdoors, often incorporating nudity and sex, attracted many Welsh adults from all classes. Actual indoctrination involved a renunciation of the Christian church; the burning of bibles; a denial of the resurrection; a denial of baptism; and an oath of allegiance to the devil. The ceremony would culminate in either sex or animal bloodletting.

In 1988 it was Cardiff and Barry's turn to be linked with Satanism. One Satanist who lived in a Cardiff suburb claimed to have been initiated by "King of the Witches" himself Alex Sanders. (Sanders, from Manchester, had strong links with Wales having regularly visited his Welsh grandmother as a child).

It's difficult to tell retrospectively whether the eighties marked a genuine upturn of interest in Satanism in Wales. With traditional community values being torn asunder by Maggie Thatcher and her cronies Satanism might well have been an unlikely by-product of her right-wing regime. On the other hand there's nothing like a juicy devil-worshipping story for making good newspaper copy.