Sunday, 09 March 2014 20:33

The Hunters

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This country was founded by people who wanted religious freedom so it is only right that everyone continue to have their choice of religion (or even lack of religion) while enjoying life. I feel most religions and beliefs are all very interesting, wise, and full of gems of wisdom, history, and information. I also appreciate the atheistic and agnostic approach that can be used in explaining events and situations. Sometimes it is important to seek divine interaction to solving a problem—but through practical and natural interactions. If a person needs help, maybe we should help them now and then pray for them later—after they are cared for or when nothing else can be done.

I suppose we all have different ways of looking at beliefs and various parts of religion. In the last ten years I have begun hearing about the Crypto-Jews who live among us here in New Mexico. They first entered the area when the Spanish arrived, many centuries ago. Although most were devout Sephardic-Jews, they were told to hide their true identities and take on Catholicism as their religion or suffer the consequences of the Grand Inquisition. These people (and their families) always tried to remember that they were really Jewish but through the ages much ancestral information was lost. Sometimes their descendant’s activities continue to involve closing all the drapes on Friday evenings and lighting candles, placing rocks upon loved ones’ gravestones, etc. Many local Hispanic people continue to perform these rituals, unknowing of the ancient Jewish heritage that has been hidden for so long. (Please look up books on Crypto-Jews in New Mexico and read about them. It is very interesting.)

Hatred of anyone based on religion or color of skin is an abomination. My mother used to tell me about when she was a child in a convent/boarding school in Washington State. The KKK, in their white hoods and robes, would often burn a large wooden cross near their school. It was a way of terrorizing people and especially the Catholic residents. Mom said the entire convent was frightened because the only residents were young female students, some docile nuns, and a very old priest. Indeed, my mother once told me how her father took her for a sleigh ride one winter evening in the same area and they happened upon some poor man who had been beaten by the KKK and then wrapped in a barbed wire fence. Her father (who had studied medicine in Europe) dislodged him from the fence, took him back to their home, and nursed him back to health. I remember asking my mother if the victim had been black, and she said no, he had been white. I was young and didn’t quite understand, so she explained to me that in the 1920’s (when this happened) that it would be followed by the same mentality that later in Germany would put Jews at mortal risk. She said that if for example, all the Jews had been eliminated, Hitler would have then gone after the Catholics, and next it would have been yet a different group of people. Eventually, almost everyone would be at an eventual risk of hatred—at the hands of a bully—or a group of bullies.

We have many religions (and races) in our state and for the past thirty years or so and there has also been an upsurge in Wicca beliefs. It is often common that Wicca members like to perform some of their rituals outside in a natural environment like the woods, mountains, pleasant green places, by water, etc.

Cool—I always thought the most beautiful place to be with God (or the Goddess, if you wish) was outside in a beautiful place in nature.

A special perk of living in New Mexico is an assortment of many beliefs and backgrounds that co-exist—rather peacefully and intelligently. When I don’t want to participate in something as important as a belief system, I find it is important to respectfully step aside (or just be quiet) and keep the subject away from any conversational hot points. I regret that I have not always been successful at this—but those are my intentions.

So what does all of this have to do with anything?

Going over all these various religions, beliefs, cults, organizations, etc.—is the first step in trying to understand a sighting I once heard about almost forty years ago.

It is with this in mind that I tell this next story.

I was having coffee late one night in a type of local café. The city police would frequent the place for a quick break and ingest enough caffeine to stay awake for the rest of their night shift. We often found ourselves in conversations with each other, as we sipped coffee to stave away sleep. People who routinely work at night are a very different type of individual who tend to find jobs that fit their normal sleep patterns. They experience a much different world than regular daylight people. Sometimes some very deep conversations of all sorts fill the night air. One evening I sat across from one man who was (I believe) a state patrolman. He was only helping out some fellow officers and did not usually work on the town’s police force but was always welcomed by the others for the occasional extra help. During these coffee breaks many of the police would trade ghost stories and experiences with me. Then one evening this man spoke up.

He related a story that he and friend had once been scouting out good wildlife locations for an upcoming hunting season. I can’t remember the type of game (deer or elk probably) but he mentioned it was about 1965 or so.

The location was near a New Mexico town of about 5,000 in population (at that time) and he and his friend were just hiking around in the woods one evening, checking things out. He was a natural athlete and I’m sure he took hiking adventures quite often–so it was just a natural and fun thing for him and his friend to do, especially since he once lived in the area. Although it was dark and pretty remote, he had good survival skills, and was confident in most natural settings.

He said he and his friend suddenly happened upon a large gathering of people in the middle of nowhere. There was a large flaming bonfire and many people surrounded it, dancing and chanting wildly. Most of them were in hooded robes or masks. He said he and his friend quietly watched them for some time—behind a small wooded area—afraid to leave that they might get caught.

Suddenly the unthinkable happened and one of the hooded men stepped away from the crowd, turned, and looked directly at him and his friend. It was as if he could see through the brush—then he turned his head back and started yelling to the others. Suddenly, everyone stopped in their tracks and angrily glared at the wooded bush area. The group became agitated and started coming for them. He said he and his friend turned and ran for dear life. They ran for a long time—until they finally got back to their truck and sped away. Obviously the robed individuals could not run fast enough to catch them and the truck had been a great advantage in their getaway.

Trying to define what type of group it was, I asked him if it had been a KKK meeting and he said no, it looked like some sort of witch gathering. I then asked if it might have been a group of Indians or Penitentes (a sometimes radical branch of the Catholic Church that is famous for performing the crucifixion of Christ on the cross with a real human volunteer). Again the police officer said no, he said he was sure since he was also aware of most of the religious cults and all the other New Mexico traditions.

“No,” he said, shaking his head, “This was a bunch of dark robed people doing something wrong out in the middle of nowhere in the dark of night—so no one would know what they were up to. When they started after us, some of them picked up boards and rocks like they were going to use them as weapons on us. The really scary thing is that while they were chasing us some of their masks fell off and their hoods blew back—and they were some of the leading businessmen and the most respected people in town! Some of them were people I knew,” he said.

Clearly, this had frightened him quite a bit. Contacting the authorities about his encounter obviously never entered his thoughts. He was now a man, with authority to carry a firearm by his side, and who upheld the law, yet even so—the number of people in that gathering, their high profiles in the community—had overwhelmed him to the point of quiet submission about the encounter.

“Did they see your face?” I asked.

“I hope not,” he said. “It was dark and my friend and I were running so fast they never could catch up to us. At any rate, I never went back into that town again. I used to live there and visited it a lot—but not anymore. I was just so disgusted with what I saw—I just can’t . . .” his voice trailed off.

I couldn’t help but feel that he was holding something back.

I have to mention a small observation at this point. His sighting probably happened in the middle 1960’s it was before the book and the movie of Rosemary’s Baby and many years before The Exorcist, and many other popular films of the same genre. Only in recent history do we have movies on the details of negative occult ritual films. My point is that very few people thought in these terms before and neither did they have many references of how other people acted or dressed for this type of alternate lifestyle. Many people (especially teens) will quickly pick up on fads. They may not live the part—but may enjoy dressing or acting the part—from peer pressure—or even as a style statement. At that time, it was extremely difficult getting books on witchcraft, the occult, etc. in local bookstores in the 1960s. It wasn’t until after the movie Rosemary’s Baby that I noticed bookstores really began carrying much larger choices of occult material. (Remember the movie scene in which Rosemary goes to the bookstore in New York to find several books about witches? Many consumers began wanting occult reading material after that movie, and the bookstores suddenly began providing many more books along this line.)
Therefore, it was probably a bit difficult for most people in this state to have many references for occult dress, rituals, etc. in order to be seen in such an ornate setting as the patrolman described. I’m not saying people can’t be creative or old ways handed down, but we just didn’t have the instant, widespread, and immediate information at out fingertips then—as we do today.

So, what were these costumed people doing in that field late at night, after all? Who were they? Maybe it was something completely innocent, or even silly. Maybe it was a homemade version of a community Zozobra.

Occasionally, I hear a rumor that there still exist some very strange negative-occult rituals in large businesses and organizations that most people (and customers) would never suspect. Usually, these organizations instruct the inside members to lie and tell falsehoods to outsiders, when questioned about anything unusual. Supposedly, these hidden activities are tolerated by the powers that be, since no one seems to be getting hurt. This is a free country and no one wants a witch-hunt—literally or figuratively. But, it always makes one wonder what is going on in a non-military, non-technology, non-government business—that warrants group participation in secret and unfamiliar rituals? Why is such control over an employee so important?

Through the years I have often thought about the young patrolman and his story. I think that whatever else he might have seen the robed group doing—is lodged in his mind. I hope that the activities by the late-night bonfire were benign and without need for interaction.

I came away from our conversation thinking that he was holding too much in his heart—but sometimes I can only ask—and sometimes a person can only say so much.

 

—Raven DeVille

Read 1846 times Last modified on Sunday, 09 March 2014 20:39
Raven Q. DeVille

Raven was born in the extreme SE corner of New Mexico, lived in the 4-corners region for 11 years, and has spent the last 50 years in Española, Santa Fe, and especially in the city of Los Alamos. She writes of her own various first-hand experiences, second-hand tales of friends, and various theories regarding ghost stories, legends and general oddness of Enchanted New Mexico.

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