We Give Our Lives!

Posted on 12/14/2012

The Process, Church of the Final Judgment Part II

by Michael Lee Röhm

After Inez devastated Xtulm, The Process members contacted their families and returned back to England.  Inez had destroyed everything, at least on a material, physical level, but it had been a transformative experience for the group on a spiritual level.

They had taken the advice of their spirit guides, their 'gods' as the guides were called, and gone to Xtul.  The gods had seen them through the hurricane.  The gods had saved them.  Then, Robert wrote - or channeled - the Xtul Dialogues, which created a more concrete theology for The Process.  When they returned to England, they returned with an evangelical furore.

They returned to their digs in the Mayfair district, the Balfour Mansion, and set up shop.  Now, however, the leaders, Robert and Mary Anne, were making themselves more and more separate from the general members.  Robert and Mary Ann dubbed themselves "The Omega," and kept to themselves, working through intermediaries.  Most of the power, according to Wylie, was possessed by Mary Ann, and she used a chain of women of varying levels of authority to keep tabs on the management of the group.

The members of The Process would spend their days panhandling and selling their newly-created magazine to interested passers by.  Those who were interested in the group went to the coffee house that The Process ran, which had either been opened recently, or re-opened (Wylie implies that the coffee house was a post-Xtul development, while other sources suggest otherwise).

The food there was, according to Wylie, both tasty and nutritious, and reflected the interest in organic products that the hippie generation first kindled in America.

The days for the Processeans developed into a steady rhythm of morning meditation, breakfast, work on telepathy or proselytising, dinner, evening meditation, sleep.  The only break in this routine was on Thursday afternoons and evenings, which the members were allowed to themselves. Of course, Wylie makes clear that this, while cultic, was a necessary element of the religion, and not at all unwelcome.  The Process would also put on theatre shows, give talks, host speakers, and show films, all on a variety of esoteric topics, from Aleister Crowley to UFOs.

However, becoming a Processean was not an easy job.  One had to be committed.  Giving up all of one's possessions to the group was but the first step.  Strict celibacy was enforced, and joining the group was a process that, at minimum, took two years.  People were interested and intriguied, but they didn't join. To The Process, of course, that just proved their own elitest beliefs about themselves, as spiritually advanced beings.

The first magazine was a, "two-color  broadsheet , focused  for  some  unaccountable  reason  on the Common  Market" that demanded, in angry, Apocalyptic terms, that England not join it.  Wylie has no idea where this sentiment came from, and chalks it up to Mary Ann. The Process also founded their own printing press, and began publishing books by Robert, which articulated and expounded on The Process' unique theology - unfortunately for The Process, this theology would get them into trouble.  Therefore, an exploration of this theology is needed.

In traditional Christianity, Jehovah/YHVH is the single god of the universe.  However, with the doctrine of the Trinity, this god's son, Jesus - who was born in the first century CE - is also the same as this god.  Wars have been fought over the intricate relationship between Jesus and YHVH.  The orthodox view of Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and most mainstream Protestants is reflected in the words of the Nicene Creed, a Creed written to settle disputes over this very issue.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

In this cosmology, there is an evil figure, commonly called Satan, but also called Lucifer, though their exact distinction, if any, is less precise.  While God/Jesus stands for righteousness and goodness, correct moral order, justice, truth, Satan/Lucifer has a variety of functions, from an accuser of the righteous to someone who actively tries to harm humanity.

In DeGrimston's theology, however, things are different.  In his theology, there are three primary gods - Jehovah, Lucifer, and Satan.  However, while they may be opposites, they have been unified in Jesus Christ.

As DeGrimston wrote in As It Is:

Christ said: Love thine enemy. Christ's Enemy was Satan and Satan's Enemy was Christ. Through love, enmity is destroyed. Through love, saint and sinner destroy the enmity between them. Through love, Christ and Satan have destroyed their enmity and come together for the End. Christ to judge, Satan to execute the judgment.

This isn't an entirely original thought.  A Church Father by the name of Origen proposed a similar scheme, whereby Christ forgave Satan and all sinners.  He was duly attacked by the orthodox members of the church, and those teachings were deemed heretical, but the idea of Christ forgiving Satan was not original to The Process.

The Process, however, took that idea, and made Satan into a key player in both the end of humanity and the judgment thereof. They also used the figures of Jehovah, Lucifer, and Satan as archetypes for each human being.  Due to the Process' origins in the psychoanalytic community, it is reasonable to assume that "The Omega" came across Jung's psychology types (which later formed the basis for the MBTI).  The three gods are a similar exercise in determining personality type.

•  Jehovah, as a god, is rigid, demanding, righteous but unmerciful, and ascetic.  He is also a god of extreme self-reliance, of duty, of discipline.

•  Lucifer is more of a "party animal," but with harmony and peace as the goal.  Lucifer could be best seen as a hippy, a figure who believes in free love, enjoying all that life has to offer, but living in harmony and love with others.

•  Satan is more complex.  He is devoted to abandonment and filth, in the hopes of transcendence.  He is destruction and fury and hate - but not as ends of themselves, but as methods of transcending mere humanity, transcending all limits.

While each person had elements of all three gods in them, each person was more in tune with one of the gods than with the others. The much touted "Satanism" of the group had little to do with 'gothic' Satanism, as portrayed by the church, therefore. It wasn't 'Catholic' Satanism (inverse masses, defrocked priests, etc.), nor was it LaVeyan Satanism.  Their Satan was more in tune with the Hindu aghori - those who indulge in what is vile so as to transcend it.  They might be interested in such unpleasant ideas as cannibalism and necrophilia (topics brought up by Satanists in the magazines), but they were not interested in having a black mass or sacrificing goats to the devi, or similar nonsense.  It was religion mixed with psychology, all designed to bring about transcendence and the destruction of enmity.

Christ was not considered a 'god' so much as an emissary, but people identified with him anyway. Wylie recounts that he never considered these gods to be truly divine, but took them as psychological archetypes, and feels that other members of The Process felt the same way.

Unfortunately, the media has never shown much ability to grasp the subtleties of religion, so this new theology, coupled with The Process' attire - black capes, black robes, Goates of Mendes patches - quickly led to them being labeled "Satanists," even though they really were not.  Highly unorthodox, definitely, but 'Satanists'?  Please. The notoriety didn't necessarily hurt, however.  By their third magazine, The Process had managed to get an interview with Mick Jagger.  Placing Jagger's face on the front cover of the magazine no doubt earned some sales, but also earned the ire of Mary Ann, who was enraged that Robert was not on there instead.

Mary Ann continued to rule over the Processeans in other ways, too.  While celibacy had been the norm for the Processeans up to this point, as more people joined, it became more and more evident that some sort of sexual outlet was required.  The plan, therefore, was that The Omega subdivided the men and women into four separate groups.  Daughters, Sons, Mothers, Fathers.  Sons and Daughters were those who were more inexperienced in the religion, and needed a guiding hand.  Fathers and Mothers were those who were more advanced, and could guide.  The Sons and Daughters could choose which Father or Mother they wanted to be with, and the couples could spend a week alone in a bedroom without being required to work.  Therefore, a "daughter" might choose a "father," and they would spend a week together engaging in whatever they wanted to - in most cases, people spent that week having sex!

These initial "relationships" led, later on, to more long-term partnerships, even marriage and children, for some couples.  After that week, however, it was back to celibacy for the Processeans, although there were odd ceremonies that would appear that were reminiscent of sex magic, according to Wylie - such as a man masturbating himself to orgasm, emptying his sperm into a sacred bowl, and then having that sperm along with kerosene burnt while prayers were said.

While London remained the base of operations for The Process, by 1967, it had begun to branch out into the United States, first in New Orleans, then in San Francisco.  While other chapters opened elsewhere in 1967 and 1968 - Munich, for example, or Greenwich Village - it is the San Francisco branch that will forever ensure that The Process is remembered, because in 1969, an fairly small event, statistically speaking, would nevertheless forever traumatise the United States and lead to The Process' eventual decline.

In the Time of Abaddon I

When The Process Church opened a branch in San Francisco, they were just a strange, new religious movement that was looking to make converts. They stepped into a cultural tinderbox.

San Francisco was where Haight-Ashbury was, and in 1967, thousands of young people followed the lyrics of a song written by John Philips of the Mamas and the Papas, to wear flowers in their hair and come to San Francisco.

Expecting to meet some "gentle people," many kids instead found themselves homeless, addicted to drugs, involved in prostitution and underground pornography, members of cults, and worse. When it became clear that young, idealistic kids were migrating to San Francisco, a lot of less than pure-hearted people flocked there too, to exploit them, and lots of other people used the freedom and idealism to act out their darkest fantasies and desires.

The Process first tried to enlist the San Francisco Oracle, a leading underground paper, to their cause, but the paper declined, being far more interested in sex, drugs, and rock and roll than Jesus and Satan.  They reportedly also tried to interest Anton LaVey, founder of The Church of Satan, but he was less than impressed. Still, The Process set up shop at 407 Cole Street.  They were just up the road from 636 Cole, which was the address of a 32 year old ex-con named Charles Manson who was surviving by panhandling, and also preaching his own Scientology-influenced  Biblical message to anyone who would listen.

While Moor and MacLean - the future DeGrimstons - studied Scientology in London's Hubbard Institute, Charlie Manson was  studying it in various prisons.  Since he was a child, Manson had been in and out of juvies and prisons, and learned  everything there - indeed, it was in prison where he learned how to play guitar.

The natural question is - did Manson ever meet up with Processeans?  More to the point, did he ever meet up with "The Omega"? No actual evidence exists for any sort of meeting, and dates are extremely hard to come by.  Manson didn't keep his flat at Cole forever - he was living on the road, cashing at the pads of his followers, etc. Given the stringent rules for joining - celibacy, obedience, giving everything one owns to the church - it seems very unlikely that Charlie Manson ever joined The Process Church proper, or any church, for that matter.

He loved to have sex with underage girls, which makes celibacy very unlikely.  He never had much to his name, relying instead on aid from his followers and petty crime. Most importantly, Charles Manson was not the sort of man who would permit others to boss him around. One can imagine that if Manson and Mary Ann ever did meet, the results would be hilarious, with Mary Ann attempting to make Charles obey her with threats, manipulation, intimidation, whatever, and Charles spouting off a line about how women have their place, and to shut up and make him some money or give him sex.

Further, simply because The Process Church existed in name in San Francisco, that doesn't mean that "The Omega" was there  much.  If Charlie, or the other family members, crossed paths with Process members, it is very unlikely that those members would have been Robert or Mary Ann. In addition, the mere fact that Mary Ann attempted to make The Process appear wealthy and classy to outsiders - a fact that Wylie reiterates when he writes about her spending above the group's means - it seems very unlikely that they'd care one iota about some scroungy 32 year old ex-con.

It's not hard to imagine Charlie or one of his girls getting Process material, reading it, assimilating it, turning it to his own ends, and using it that way.  It is extremely hard to imagine that someone like Charlie Manson had any real dealings with The Process beyond the superficial. Manson did have connections to some strange folks in those days, and when I write on Manson, believe me, they'll be covered - but not The Process.

Unfortunately for The Process, they did become forever linked with Manson in the popular imagination due to the efforts of one beatnik author/musician. To figure out how the hippie movement went so wrong, and while The Process probably never counted Manson as a member, they made their own connection to him after the murders which, in retrospect, was a very, very bad move.


Michael Lee Röhm is a writer currently residing in Northamptonshire, Massachusetts. He can be contacted here