Monday, June 3, 2013

A Short Chat With An "Occult Expert"


Last week, national radio station SAFM featured a debate on "Satanism and crime" called "What is Satanism?" - you can find the link to the debate here: SAFM podcast link (31 May What is Satanism?).

Having listened to this debate, and having become involved in the academic study of the occult and since recently also becoming a participant in a joint interfaith project, I formed something of an understanding of the topic. 

I was immediately concerned with the sort of things being said by one of the guests on the show - one Adele Neveling, a woman who claimed to have been a Satanist for 18 years, but demonstrated a shocking lack of first-hand knowledge of Satanism as a religion. I decided to approach her for comment.

[Update: Subsequent notes have been added to the bottom of the article to list further incidents after the initial publication of this article in 2013.]

Background:

Adele Neveling bills herself as a Christian "occult expert" with some 18 years of experience in Satanism, and in the radio show, she claimed that she had witnessed or even participated in human sacrifices (this already set off some five alarm warnings for me - how about you?) and said that she had even consumed human flesh in the process of "worshipping Satan". 

She appeared on the show beside Hennie De Jager, a senior police officer who also billed himself as an "expert in satanism", which by membership of the evangelicalist Christian-only "elite" SAPS "Occult Related Crimes" unit, implied his strong association with Christianity.

The Radio Show:

During the show itself, Neveling did not sound convincing at all - she was too unsure of herself and her "facts" to be taken seriously as any kind of "expert" by anybody but the most gullible and ignorant. 

For one thing, "probably" does not stand up in a court of law, and people who claim to be Satanists just to get off from criminal charges on the excuse that "the devil made me do it" are generally not really Satanists at all, but "pseudo-satanist" tabloid prophecy fulfillers who risk taking the equivalent of an insanity plea to mitigate their sentence.

I listened with incredulity as Neveling's outrageous statements repeatedly received the backing of the other Christian "occult expert" being featured - the co-ordinator for the South African Police "Occult Related Crimes Unit", Colonel Hennie De Jager. De Jager - as a policeman, should've been interested in voluntary confessions to crimes like cannibalism, kidnapping and murder made on a national radio station - instead nodded his head and unconscionably backed her wild claims all the way to the hilt. 

Simultaneously, I listened as these people - a senior police officer and government employee, a Christian pastor and a radio host on a national radio station belonging to the government - matter-of-factly slandered a religion protected by the South African Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Promulgation of Equality Act of 2000. It was disturbingly surreal. 

In the face of all this self-congratulatory rubber stamping, affirmation and head nodding, I mentally raised my hand to ask what I felt was the question nobody else - at least not on shows like this - seemed to be asking: What makes these people "experts" in "the occult" or in "Satanism" as they claim?

Had either Neveling or De Jager ever achieved any qualifications in the academic study of Satanism as a religion? Had either of them participated in Satanism as a religion, other than as "pseudo-satanists"? 

Neveling claimed to have spent 18 years "in Satanism" - did she have any kind of recognition from a Satanic church or occult group? Did Neveling participate in a Satanic society dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge in the left hand path - or did she belong to a "coa-ven" of "legend trippers" - mostly misinformed rebellious teenagers breast-fed on the sort of hysteria-infused "Satanic Panic" crap espoused by people like De Jager, Jonker and Lamprecht and their ilk from the pulpit?

Satanism is not what these frauds say it is. It's not about sex and drugs or rock n' roll, or human and animal sacrifice, or vandalizing park benches, or carving "Hale Satun" into school desks for shock value to give the teachers a scare, or littering public parks with dead bunnies or chickens, strips of tin-foil and candles.

To illustrate a common mistake on the part of these so-called "experts", Satanist groups aren't known to use the term "coven" to describe themselves. Incidentally, it's pronounced "kuh-vin" (kʌv(ə)n), not "coa-vin". The term is prevalent within Wicca, and sometimes other neopagan and occult groups, but generally not in Satanism. An "occult expert" ought to be aware of that.

Perhaps the real reason why De Jager seemed so eager to accept Neveling's sob-story was because as a purveyor of the "Satanic Panic" myth which created "pseudo-satanism" in the first place, the appearance of legend-trippers like Neveling herself seems to give them confirmation that they're "on the right track". After all, if people keep showing up to confirm what they keep warning about, then "Satanic Panic" must be real, right?

It's called "confirmation bias".

Neveling went on to mention the usual features of the original "Satanic Panic" hysteria of the 1980's that began in the USA: "breeders" and human sacrifice - things which the FBI spent all of 8 years intensely investigating. What did they come up with? Aside from a glaring lack of evidence for these wild claims, the conclusion that the majority of people coming forward with "Satanic Ritual Abuse" claims suffered from mental illness, specifically Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and required the attention of mental health professionals, not law enforcement (Lanning, K. (1992).).

Neveling also claimed that she had received "police attention" as a result of her claims or activities (she didn't specify) - but she also offered no proof of these allegations, nor did she elaborate further on whether she had been charged, convicted or about sentencing or prison time. I don't recall any news about such a case being covered in the media in the last couple of decades involving "human sacrifice", "breeding farms" - or Adele Neveling - can you? Nor have traces of any been findable on the internet. Considering the stark absence of proof inherent to these claims in particular, it would appear that the findings of Kevin Lanning would be of some relevance here.

Given the sort of incendiary hysteria and witch hunts that flare up around any kind of media attention given to so-called "occult related crimes" in South African media as a trend, I should be able to see the smoke from my kitchen window.

Colonel Hennie De Jager also presented himself as an "expert" in the occult - after all, he's a policeman in a unit that unlawfully (in violation of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Promulgation of Equality Act of 2000) focuses on Satanism who should know all about it. It should be more surprising to me to learn that he doesn't. Like every other self-appointed know-it-all Christian "occult expert", De Jager sadly disappoints. I mean, is this what my tax money is being wasted on?

Where did De Jager receive his alleged training in "the occult"? Was he a member of an occult or Satanist study group? Did he study New Religious Movements at a university? Or did he learn about it at a Christian seminary or divinity school-cum-diploma mill? Yes, I am confident that a Christian college would teach an objective realistic view of occult beliefs and Satanism, aren't you? (Sarcasm intended).

Some might argue that it's irrelevant where people gain their expertise - but the fact is, it becomes very relevant in the sense how their perception of the subject is formed - or tainted and prejudiced - by the source of their information or instruction.

The SAPS provided special 5 day SAPS training courses to Occult Related Crime recruits (yes, "ORC" for short - I kid you not) using material developed by Kobus Jonker - another self-proclaimed "occult expert" who has demonstrated zero actual working knowledge of neopagan religions, occultism or Satanism - and who repeatedly conflated and confused all of these along with traditional African beliefs and practices during his career as commander of the ORC unit from 1992 to 2001, and as the author or co-author of papers on Satanism and witchcraft (Dunbar, D. (2012).).

It's disconcerting and immensely troubling how many people billing themselves to law enforcement, the media and to the public at large - overseas and in South Africa - as "experts in the occult" while having bugger-all qualifications in the subject. 

Instead, what they have (at most) is a qualification resulting from the study of "the occult" through the biased views of another religion. This is NOT the same thing as adopting a secular, impartial, scientific and objective approach - and this should not, in the 21st century, be something which should have to be pointed out! But then, these days scientists appear to be arguing more and more with idiots claiming the Earth to be flat, so perhaps it's not that surprising after all.

To illustrate this point: if you want an expert opinion about paleontology, you don't consult a veterinarian - and if your dog has a chicken bone lodged in his esophagus, you don't rush him to a psychologist! Sure they may both have doctorates - and their opinions may sound educated and weighty - and even (to be fair) knowledgeable, and even objective - but neither is qualified in the other's field, and each viewed from the opposite viewpoint of the other, is frankly, unqualified to give sound opinions in the field of the other.

Yet when it comes to defining (and in this case slandering) Satanism and a broad spectrum of occult religions and beliefs, this expectation of credibility and qualifications simply goes out the window.

Critics of Satanism belonging to another religion entirely (Christianity) who pose (and are feted, promoted and even defended) as experts in Satanism - despite never having been involved in Satanism itself.

It's even more disquieting when the amount of harm these frauds can wreak in the lives of others is taken into consideration, in cases where their malicious slander and disinformation is taken seriously by those who should be doing more to ensure the credibility of their sources - like representatives of government departments, law enforcement agencies, educators, media platforms and journalists (who above all others, have an obligation to report facts and tell the truth).

Face it, not everybody knows much (or anything) about Satanism as a religion, or about the ever-mysterious boogeyman, "the occult" - and while the public generally operates in varying degrees of ignorance, often influenced by fiction, horror-movie schlock, it can be quite easy for groups like AUKSANO (or the ORC) - or people like Neveling and De Jager to stoke the fires of hysteria.

Amplified through the distorted lens of public ignorance on these subjects, things just get worse. Everyone has to have an opinion - and has to be heard on the topic - and platforms like Facebook and Twitter make this all too easy for them these days, even if they are completely clueless.

In fairness, an attempt appeared to have been made by the SAFM host to present an opposing view, in the form of a single individual who made himself available to participate in the radio chat show - a man who preferred to remain anonymous, which he did due to fearing repercussions from exposing himself to the expected public reaction. 

Some South Africans, it has to be said, are absolute bullies. For some reason, they can't seem to imagine why anyone who appears to represent something they hate as much as Satanism, would want to not provide them with a name, photo and a place for them to start looking to send the bill. 

Because they're afraid of being exposed to that sort of hatred and possible violence and intimidation - or even of losing their jobs - they agree to appear on shows like this if guaranteed anonymity - yet this is misinterpreted by the low-brow religious fanatic bullies calling in to the show as meaning they "have something to hide". As a matter of interest, I found the idiocy of the callers who accused him of being a liar and of "covering up murders" and other alleged crimes simply because he appeared anonymously, enormously frustrating.

Is it any wonder that Satanists turn down offers to be interviewed or to participate in radio or TV shows, or opt to do so anonymously?

How does one change the minds of people who don't seem to be capable of reason in the first place? Most of the callers sounded angry, like religious fanatics frothing at the mouth, like they would sooner shoot or lynch a Satanist than look at one! People ruled by blind anger and views formed through indoctrination are unlikely to hear someone out before considering a change of heart!

I'm sure these people - once they'd calmed down and put away their sharpened bibles - would be interested to know that Satanists don't hide their identities because they have something dastardly and sinister to hide - they hide their identities so that pitchfork and flaming torch waving loons won't know where to find them. They're people with jobs, careers, families, relationships. And all this, despite the reality that they're people whose beliefs and practices are legally guaranteed equality. 

But to come back to the claimed "link" between "Satanism" and crime in this country? Is there a real link between "the occult" and crime? There have been reams of contentious debate on that subject for nigh on forty years, and in spite of a glaring lack of substance to these claims, there are still prophets of "satanic conspiracy" theory pushing these claims to win fame and fortune for themselves.

How far off-target are these charlatans? According to the media, there has been a rise in cries of "Satanism" surrounding recent reports of crime - but is there any proof to substantiate these claims? 

If there were, why has not a single court in South Africa - in over 30 years - ever concluded as much? 

De Jager and Neveling (as did Jonker before them) appear to be adherents of the widely claimed conspiracy theories fueling hysteria about Satanists indulging in animal and human sacrifice - and the SAPS even promulgated a fabricated "occult calendar" to warn about Satanists abducting dogs and cats and little children for sacrificial purposes for years.

Do Satanists really abduct cats and dogs every Halloween? Or is it really just a matter of misplaced blame following the number of illegal dog-fighting rings stealing animals as live bait? Is Halloween really "evil" and "harmful" as these people say it is? Or is it no more "evil" or "harmful" than Christmas - or possibly even less so?

Neveling has an interesting Facebook page with some illuminating items posted on it. Another site (rather disturbing and insulting to Pagans and Witches and even Satanists alike) with some of her colorful claims can be found here

She certainly seems to think of herself as a kind of "occult survivor" in an attention-seeking sort of self-glorifying way, making a big play of her journey, having "beaten Satanism" through "being washed in the blood of Jesus". It all sounds exciting - like a thrill a minute, especially if you're into blood-play, BDSM and that sort of thing - but is any of it true? 

Or is the truth perhaps more likely that Neveling has simply swapped one religious delusion for another?

I decided to try and find out.

An Email Conversation With Adele Neveling:

This morning I sent Adele Neveling a message on Facebook:

"Dear Adele.

The SAFM interview you participated in last week cemented for me the whole problem in SA. The problem comes in where generally, "occult experts" who have never ventured out of the comfort of their own religions claim out of their well-entrenched positions of ignorance that anything where Satan is worshiped is "Satanism" - never mind what other Satanists, and even Satanist authority-figures say about it. 

This is an over-simplistic and completely irrational way of looking at this issue. By the same token, kids that kill people in the name of "Satan" are as much Satanists as those well-documented nuts that kill people because they believe their neighbors are evil 'vampires' or because "God" or "the voices" told them to, are Christians.

The unique character of Satanism in South Africa as referred to by South African Christian so-called “occult experts” is NOT REAL Satanism, but Legend Tripping. That would be the ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY of the whole issue.

Incidentally, the Church of Satan does not have any affiliate groups or chapters anywhere, since it abandoned that system some time ago. Therefore there are no "Churches of Satan" in South Africa, at least NONE that are affiliated to THE actual Church of Satan which is based in San Francisco.

Legend Trippers think of themselves as real actual Satanists because they do the things the police "occult experts" and the press say Satanists do, and live up to the expectations of a fooled public. (The CoS calls these people "devil worshipers".)

That is why when real, spiritual or religious Satanists present themselves and their "mainstream" version of Satanism to these "experts" – and correctly so as a non-criminal belief system, or accuse those who commit crimes in the name of Satan of being mentally ill or suggest that they are trying to evade the responsibility for their actions, they are discredited as liars or accused of "covering up" for the Legend Tripping faux Satanists.

The idea of a non-violent, non-criminal, and non blood-thirsty, non-human sacrificing Satanist just doesn't exist in the minds of most so-called Christian "occult experts" – because it goes against everything they are taught to believe in.

They are taught by their Christian mentors, that Satanism and anything that contradicts their religious doctrine amount to one and the same thing, and that Satanism is to be viewed in the strict biblical sense, deception, destruction, rebellion etc. Apparent "occult survivors" seem to confirm these views – precisely because they have been part of devil worship Legend Tripping rings themselves, run by deluded and dangerous people – and NOT de facto Satanism.

Further, to conflate African traditions such as muti killings etc. with a Western religion such as Satanism is false, inaccurate and unethical for someone billed as an "occult expert" - the two are completely separate issues entirely.

Added to that, I have great doubts about most of the claims you made on air, in fact to my mind you were a legend tripper involved with other legend trippers - and that is not Satanism, but a self-deluding form of devil-worship - that is the kind of crime you need to be taking on in SA - not other people's right to freedom of religion. You expect others to be tolerant of your choice to be Christian, then you should also be tolerant to others choices to not be Christian - focus on crime, not religion. Religion isn't crime - CRIME is crime.

Thank you.

Christina Engela." 

Neveling sent a reply:

"Hi Christina 

Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

I agree with you, especially about: focus on crime, not religion. Religion isn't crime - CRIME is crime. I received many letters from people since Friday - many disagree with me but almost everyone disagree with one another on the topic as well.

It's like there is no consensus about the general ideas/objectives/principles of satanism.

If there is so much people can't agree within the same movement: why is it so difficult to believe that there are a strong group doing crazy stuff in the name of satanism SA? You are blessed & fortunate not to be part of a group that demands more of you than what you are prepared to give, but to deny the other possibility is like the catholic church denying pedophilia. Have a beautiful day" 

I sent another reply:

"Thank you Adele,

I hope you will take the time to read this email carefully before just casually dismissing it.

I am fortunate enough to have enough savvy to stay out of things I don't feel comfortable with, but I suppose I am also a little cursed with a mouth that won't stay shut when I perceive injustice - even when it doesn't directly affect me.

It is difficult to believe that "there are so many people doing things in the name of Satanism in SA" when the people doing these things are NOT Satanists.

I'm not saying this because I want to pick an argument - I'm saying it because they aren't. 

Just because THEY seem convinced they are doing these things as acts of supplication or worship of the devil doesn't mean that they are Satanists as defined by formal Satanist religion or by conventions of formal Satanic religion. Just because they say "the Devil made me do it" doesn't mean they aren't mentally ill or suffering from some kind of delusion, personality or other dissociative disorder.

You take any average 14 year old black kid living in poverty, they will feel disillusioned with life, their prospects, their chance to do well in life, to make something of themselves - and then they hear of the stories that tell them Satan will make them powerful and bring them riches, and "all" they need to do is kill a few cats or some relatives they probably don't like very much within the context of their dysfunctional family dynamics anyway... 

All this is contrary to Satanic teachings and ritual practice. If you really had been a Satanist, you would know this.

But these kids DON'T know this - they are young, under-developed, naïve and uneducated - and they believe the stories they are told by their hysterical pastors, the media, the "experts" in the police... they start their own little groups, give them fancy sinister sounding names, play tricks, commit random acts of vandalism, and some escalate this to the next level - and what happens?

Tragedy.

And whose fault is it? The religion they believed the lies about - or those who told the lies themselves? 

That's right - if you want to find the root of this problem, stop the lies, stop the hysteria and stop the scapegoating. 

Sitting there on air and making claims about other people's religions while representing your own does not make you sound very convincing as an "expert" at all - it just means you are saying all the things people of your own religion want to hear come out of your mouth, like a puppet on a string.

If people commit crimes, address the criminal - not the entire scope of people who identify with a religious belief system and call themselves Satanists - even though there are more than 5 different sects of Satanism and even though 99% of them abide by the law like anyone else and are just as shocked and disgusted as the rest of the world at the horrendous acts and tragedies wrongfully placed at THEIR feet.

I encourage you to do the right thing - not just the thing that everybody wants you to do. Speak the truth, put the lie to rest."

I didn't get another response from Adele Neveling, but I think this speaks for itself.

Updates:


2014:

Adele Neveling went on to build her brand as a "deliverance ministry". During 2014, her unlikely story of being "delivered from Satanism" was published in two books: “Sacrifice: From the dark underworld of Satanism, to a life of freedom through the Blood” (in English and Afrikaans) and “Kreet van die Bloedbevlektes” (in Afrikaans). 

Also during 2014, Neveling is described as a "police consultant" in so-called "occult crime" in an article (Scarcella, F. (Aug 5, 2014).) in which she spouts the most outrageous bullshit imaginable, which appears to be taken at face value.

"“The relevance to satanism in the Pennsylvania case is that important satanic dates are usually dictated by the satanic calendar, but each satanist’s birthday is also regarded as an important day in satanic celebrations,” Neveling said Thursday. “It can include anything from blood and sex rituals to death rituals."

Here Neveling refers to the so-called "occult calendar" - a device not created by Satanists, but by Christian activist the late David Balsiger in 1988 - which has so many flaws that it is at best, nonsensical. So flawed is it, that it lists Christian holy days as "satanic" and flagrantly conflates days of significance to multiple religions with "satanism" and days upon which "Satanists" (or witches, depending on which version is in circulation) alternatingly commit ritual murder, prepare to abduct victims for human sacrifice, make animal sacrifices, or indulge in sex orgies while somehow finding time to live outwardly ordinary lives. 

But Neveling's absurd claims didn't end there.

"'Only people who are really serious about satanism own a copy of 'The Satanic Bible,'' Neveling said." (which is about the only thing she said which is even remotely true - even if she clearly doesn't understand that, but then she went on to demonstrate even more of her ignorance about Satanism by adding "'The weapon of choice in satanism is a sword. However, if a sword can’t be used, then a long knife, cane or staff may be substituted, according to 'The Satanic Bible.'

According to the... what? Did Adele Neveling really try to justify the absurd belief that Satanists practice ritual human sacrifice by saying "The Satanic Bible" prescribes what implements should be used to commit murder?

All of this while conveniently not mentioning or not knowing for herself - that "The Satanic Bible" by Anton Szandor Lavey in totality voids every absurd and outrageous claim she has ever made about Satanism and her self-claimed "expertise" as a "former Satanist"! 

LaVeyan Satanism is atheistic, therefore there is no "blood-thirty" deity in atheistic Satanism to demand sacrifice - and furthermore, if anyone (including most especially Adele Neveling) made the fucking effort to read "The Satanic Bible" themselves, they would see that it expressly opposes abuses against animals and children, unwanted sexual advances and physical violence towards others!

How could Neveling - as an "expert in Satanism", as she claims to be, possibly not know that?

2018:

While appearing as a guest-speaker at a high tea on February 24, 2018, Neveling increased the length of her supposed "involvement in Satanism" to 19 years, (over the previously stated 18). Further, she stated that her "main purpose in the cult was to infiltrate Christian churches". She said "I was groomed by the pastor of their Christian church, who happened to be the Satanic high priest of the coven as well.

“I felt completely comfortable interacting and communicating with demons and forces in the spiritual world, and fortunately never had the chance to decide whether I wanted to be a Satanist, seeing as that decision was made for me.” (Bradbury, N. (February 27, 2018).). 

2020:

Rev. Riaan Swiegelaar, co-founder of the South African Satanic Church highlights and discusses the inconsistencies in claims made by Adele Neveling (married surname, Vrey) regarding her personal involvement in Satanism.

In examining the timeline given by Neveling herself in her various statements and her books, Swiegelaar stated:

"If indeed Adele was ever a Satanist, she must have been been between the ages of 15 and tops, 21 at the time. So that also brings another question to mind..." "...How does devil worship get perceived by a child? Of the ages 16, 17, 18? To ask 'is this legitimate Satanism?'. As you all know - or don't know - that any Satanic organization, or church, international - not just us (SASC) - will not take any members younger than 18, sometimes younger than 21 years of age. These claims of Satanists then targeting the youth are also false, and again, Christian propaganda." (Swiegelaar, R. (May 6, 2020).).

To hear Rev. Swiegelaar's address debunking of Neveling's propaganda, view the video.

References:

Lanning, K. (1992). “The Investigator’s Guide to Allegations of ‘Ritual’ Childhood Abuse”. US Dept of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI Academy, United States of America. From https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=136592

Dunbar, D. (2012). "The Devil's Children: Volk, Devils and Moral Panics in White South Africa, 1976–1993" (M.A. thesis). Stellenbosch University. From http://scholar.sun.ac.za/handle/10019.1/20179 

Van Nieuwerk, F; Geldenhuys, C.; et al. (2014). “Sacrifice: From the dark underworld of Satanism, to a life of freedom through the Blood.”

Van Nieuwerk, F; Swart, U; et al. (2014). “Kreet van die Bloedbevlektes” (Afrikaans Edition).

Scarcella, F. (Aug 5, 2014). "Former satanist: 1 a clue". The Daily Item. From https://www.dailyitem.com/former-satanist-1-a-clue/article_169c5fe2-d3cd-5e22-84a8-83c765cf0214.html

LaVey, A. (1969). "The Satanic Bible".

Bradbury, N. (February 27, 2018). "Adele Neveling's Story Of Breaking Satan's Chains" Review Online. From https://reviewonline.co.za/253919/adele-nevelings-story-breaking-satans-chains/ 

Swiegelaar, R. (May 6, 2020). "We Have To Talk About Adele... Exposing Christian Propaganda". The South African Satanic Church YouTube Channel. From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEoxmEb4GZE

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1 comment:

  1. Matthew 7:1-5
    "Do not judge others,so that God will not judge you,for God will judge you in the same way as you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others.

    Why,then, do you look at the speck in your brother's,and pay no attention to the log in you own eye?

    How dare you say to your brother, "Please,let me take that speck out of your eye,"when you have a log in your own? You hypocrite!

    First take the log out of your own eye,and then you will beable to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

    John 5:24
    I tell you the truth,whoever hears my word and believes him who send me has eternal life and will not be condemned;he has crossed over from death to life."

    Adele God bless you in abundance, and may you touch people's life's through the Holy Spirit.

    Christina God bless you! May He touch your heart through His Love xoxo

    ReplyDelete