Their Satanic Majesties Request

Posted on 3/01/2013

by Michael Lee Röhm

This will not strictly be about The Process, but about other groups that were around at the same tme, and much later, and how their existence brought The Process unwanted infamy.

I suppose the best time and place to start would be Frisco, on April 30th, 1966.
According to Germanic folklore and superstition, April 30th was the night when witches and demons ran amok on the mountain known as the Brocken, the tallest mountain in the Hartz mountains.  It is called Walpurgisnacht, after the Anglo-Saxon saint who preached to the Franks, Walburga. She was canonised on May 1st, which was traditionally the first day of spring in the Germanic countries, and the evening before May 1st was celebrated even by witches and demons - this is probably a holdover from older pagan spring rituals that would call in the spring throughout the night.

On April 30th, 1966, Howard Levey shaved his head, declared himself to be 'Anton LaVey,' and founded his 'Church of Satan.' The Church had its origins in Friday evening get-togethers that Levey would hold in his home, wherein he and his guests would discuss topics of an occult nature.

Levey claimed he had a colourful history long before he founded his church.  He said that he quit school to join the circus, that he was a photographer for the Frisco PD and photographed a number of homicide scenes. He even claimed he slept with a pre-fame Marilyn Monroe whilst performing music at a burlesque house called The MayanIt's likely that these were all lies.  There's no record of any of his supposed career as a SFPD photographer, or for his claims that he was involved in the circus.

While Miss Monroe has long since passed away, no one from Monroe's crowd - agents, friends, family - have any knowledge of this supposed affair.  Furthermore, the owner of The Mayan has stated that not only was the place not a burlesque house, but that no Howard Levey performed there, nor did a pre-fame Monroe (birth name:  Norma Jean Mortenson, then changed to Baker while still a child). According to neo-pagan Druid Issac Bonewits, Levey had no real grounding in the occult arts.  From his article, "My Satanic Adventure" (located on the web here: )

During this time, I became a regular at the Church of Satan. I attended LaVeys lectures, went to his Friday night rituals, and quickly became one of his regular altar boys and a “Satanic Minister.” Ill never forget the evening when I decided to ad lib some fake “Enochian” invocations during one of the ceremonies. I dramatically intoned a lot of gibberish, using the same guttural tones that Anton always used, and everyone in the ritual acted very impressed. Afterwards, I asked Anton, “Howd you like my Enochian?” and he gave me a look that would have melted sheetrock. He did not, however, warn me of the dangers of mucking with this ceremonial language, as any real Enochian magician would have done out of sheer self-preservation (since they all believe that it is a terribly powerful magical tongue), nor did he complain that I had ruined his magical intent, as he would have done if he had actually been doing any magic. It was at that point that I realized two important things about Anton: he really didnt know very much about Enochian and he wasnt actually trying to do magic in his supposedly magical rites. I began to wonder if he even knew how.


To me it was all just another part of the adventure. I continued to listen admiringly to Antons tales, though I was somewhat shocked when he claimed that his huge library of occult books had been swindled from rich widows. I was more shocked when I realized that he had read only a tiny fraction of them, and that at seventeen I had read far more books on parapsychology, comparative religion and the occult than he had, despite his twenty years head start.

Nevertheless, an organisation known as the "Church of Satan" gained quite a bit of publicity, leading to LaVey becoming the poster-boy for the emergence of Satan in the so-called Age of Aquarius.

Another group, far less influential, but far more notorious in the annals of 60's cults was The Solar Lodge. Founded in 1962 and based loosely on Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis, The Solar Lodge became best known for the controversy surrounding the "boy in the box" incident.

This incident involved a six year old named Anthony Saul Gibbons, whose parents were members of the group, in 1969 - just a few weeks before the Manson murders made cult-based crime a topic on everyones' lips. At that point, a woman by the name of Georgina "Jean" Brayton was then head of the Solar Lodge, and according to press reports, she ruled the group with an iron fist.

The boy reportedly set a fire - whether it was accidental or intentional has not been fully resolved.  According to members of the Solar Lodge, it was intentional. The official Lodge story (as reported in the LA Free Press, September 17, 1971, in a piece by an Ed Hoffman) is thus:

The group had established a base of operations 38 miles north of Blythe, California, in the desert.  From humble beginnings, they had established a main office, areas for livestock, and apartment buildings (reportedly built from piano boxes and A-frames).

While the group had originally all lived together in the main office building, growth forced the building of more areas to live.  These areas were certainly not up to code or very habitable, but the members of the Solar Lodge moved to them anyway. Two children, Anthony Saul Gibbons and Kathy Myer, set fire to the apartment building they lived in, because they wanted to go back to living in the main building.  However, the fire soon went out of control, and before long, much of the group's construction had been destroyed, and two goats were killed.

The children were said to be 'problem children,' from broken homes.  The mother of Kathy, Marge Myer, could not support her daughter, and begged for the group to keep her.  Gibbons' father, Jim Gibbons, did the same.  Jim was a probation counselor in Los Angeles who was separated from his wife, Beverly, who lived with the Lodge.

The children were separated, and two months went by, while construction was underway on rebuilding the apartments.  Finally life was settling back to normal, when Saul was found once more trying to set a fire, this time in a kitchen of a new building.

The group contacted his father again, who was enraged, and told them that he'd be there to pick up Saul in the morning.  He told them to lock him up somehow, so that he could no longer get into trouble, and leave him be until the next morning. Saul was therefore put into a storage shed and locked in for the rest of the night.

I want to end it on that note, because, well, it's a good note to end a story on!  There's more to it, and even more weirdness coming.

You may wonder what any of this has to do with the Process Church.  The answer is:  nothing and everything.  There were lots of fringe religious groups in California, many of which were later tied to Manson, or tied to the Process Church, or both.  These are just two.  There are more, and to get a fuller understanding the Process Conspiracy, and the final collapse of the Process Church, it is important to understand that.  I hope that in coming entries, I can tie this all neatly together to make a well-rounded story and, of course, to share my own bizarre obsessions wtih long-gone cults and genuinely strange personages.


Strange Days Have Tracked Us Down!

Very appropriate because it just gets weirder from here.

So in the last post, I was writing about Anthony Saul Gibbons, specifically, what the official story was from the Solar Lodge.

We left young Master Gibbons locked in a storage shed.  A storage shed that was just another A-Frame, measuring 36 feet. The next morning, a member of the group, who worked at the bank of America as her day job, was headed to Los Angeles, and asked the man who had been in charge of Gibbons, Steve Quilley, if he needed anything.

Quilley had been placed in charge of Gibbons since the last fire was set, and was the one who discovered him trying to set fire to the kitchen, the one who called Gibbons' father, and the one who locked him up. The member, Julie Oster, noticed Gibbons in the crate, and told Steve to let him go.  When Steve refused to do so, she became angry, she left, first trying to find the boy's mother and, unable to find her, went to Margie Myer, the mother of Kathy, and told her about the boy in the shed. However, according to Hoffman, Myer was 'vindictive' toward the group.

Unbeknownst to the group, Marge was vindictive towards the group. She felt indignation towards the group for "stealing" her brother (she was a devout member) from her, and resented the group's rules of celibacy. Instead of finding Beverly, Saul's mother, Marge contacted the police. The police gave her all the assistance she needed by sending her Larry Creech -- a police informer, who was later accompanied by Michael Childs, and undercover agent. 

The idea of a group based on Crowley's thought enforcing a strict celibacy rule is pretty hilarious, but beyond that, let's look at what happened next. The two posed as hippies and went undercover, claiming to want to borrow a car jack and look at horses that Margie had for sale.

Instead of looking at horses, however, Creech went looking for the storage shed, and found it.  The  men left quickly thereafter, but upon their return they brought the weight of the Riverside County Sheriffs with them.

Everyone present was arrested, although Quilley managed to escape, and a warrant was put out for Brayton's arrest, which she evaded for quite some time.  Included in the arrest sweep was Julie Oster and Gibbons' mother, Beverly.  A list of all arrested follows:

CLIFFORD ALAN REOS, white male, age 21, 5'10", 160 pounds, brown hair, and green eyes;
MICHAEL JOHN FOXWORTH, white male, age 20, 6'20", 175 pounds, brown hair, and brown eyes;
GARDNER HERBERT REYNOLDS, JR., white male, age 22, 5'11", 180 pounds, brown hair, and hazel eyes;
JAMES EDWARD HUNGERFORD, white male, age 22, 6', 175 pounds, brown hair, and blue eyes;
VIRGINIA CELESTE MICHEL, white female, age 21, 5'3", 110 pounds, brown hair, and blue eyes;
PATRICIA ANN MOSHER, white female, age 26, 5'3", 105 pounds, brown hair, and blue eyes;
JACK REVEL NEECE, white male, age 22, 5'8", 140 pounds, brown hair, and blue eyes;
JOHN FRANCIS NICHOLSON, white male, age 21, 5'8", 148 pounds, brown hair, and blue eyes;
JUIDH LYNN OSTER, nee Angelson, also known as Julie Oster, an employee of the Bank of America;
BEVERLY JUNE GIBBONS, white female, date of birth 5/13/33, 5'4", 105 pounds, brown hair, and brown eyes;

Here, stories diverge.

The press reported that the boy was locked in a 6x6 shipping crate for 56 days, where he was left without regular food or water in the hot California summer sun.  They attribute this treatment to a fire started by Gibbons alone, and claimed that he was punished thusly because he destroyed precious Crowley artifacts owned by Brayton. These claims were based upon Creech's testimony.  The group claims that Creech was already in trouble with the law, that he lied on the stand, and that he recanted his testimony.

Another member, Clifford "Al" Reos, turned states' evidence, and spied on the group, then testified against them. Hoffman, in the LA Free Press, claimed Reos was, "driven by paranoid delusions and nerve-crushing fear."

Maybe, maybe not.

One of the problems with researching this sort of thing is that the source documents are just not there.  Or rather, they are, but they're not online.  They're in microfiche archives in California.  For a researcher in Massachusetts, that's not exactly accessible. Still, there are options, and the case has achieved some level of notoriety.  There's an image of Gibbons, scanned in from an old newspaper, but the text is indecipherable.

Fortunately, there is a transcript of this article, here with another picture of a continuaton of the article, which is much more legible.

Crucially, this is the boy's testimony.

In it, he states that he was placed in both the A-frame storage unit, AND a box.  He claims that Brayton torched his fingers after the fire, then that he was placed inside of the A-frame.

He was in the A-frame for 20 days, and had been confined there by a fellow cultist, Spud Reynolds.  He was only allowed to leave for showers, and he was accompanied by Jeffrey Flynn when he did this.  Another article from the era says he was also allowed to do "chores." After being in the A-frame for those 20 days, the boy testified that he was moved to the crate.  In both the A-frame and in the crate, he had a chain around his ankle.  However, in the A-frame, he was only fed bread and water.  In the crate, he was fed full meals, but was given cans to dispose of his waste and his trash in.

The Distract Attorney, according to the article, held up very damning evidence - a photograph of the box, with a plate, cans, a spoon, a plastic bottle, and "some other items."  Anthony also reported that he was bitten all over by insects.

While doctor reports stated that the boy was in good condition, he did not see a doctor until three days after the arrests.

He was also able to recognise all of the cultists except for his own mother.  He testified that he rarely saw her around. Because Brayton and her husband, the boy's father, and a few other cultists fled the country after the arrests were made (they went to property Brayton owned in Mexico), the FBI was brought in, and the FBI file, aside from strikes of a black marker over certain things, is available to the public.

It is worth quoting:

Riverside County Sheriff's Deputies proceeded to the commune, where they found SAUL GIBBONS sitting on a mattress in a 6' by 6' box. A heavy metal chain was padlocked to his left leg and the other end of the chain was locked to a large metal plate. The box also contained a No. 10 can partially filled with human waste and swarming with flies. Also, the box contained an uncovered plastic jug with drinking water, a food encrusted plate, and a small washtub filled with dirty water. The stench was nauseating, the flies were swarming, it was hot, and the boy could not recall how long he had been in the box. The recorded temperature in Blythe since 7/1/69 reached 117 degrees with 12 days reaching 110 degrees or more.

Investigation determined that on 5/20/69 the Quonset hut at the commune, with many of the cult's belongings, burned down. This fire was not reported to authorities.

Cult members determined that SAUL GIBBONS set the fire and about three days later, GEORGINA BRAYTON, RICHARD BRAYTON, and ROBERT DUERRSTEIN, as well as other cult members, proceeded to the commune from Los Angeles.

XXX former O.T.O. members, stated that GEORGINA BRAYTON is the leader of the group and ROBERT DUERRSTEIN is second in command. The group is strictly disciplined and JEAN BRAYTON finalizes all decisions. Upon arrival at the commune in May, JEAN BRAYTON is alleged to have held lit matches to the hand of SAUL GIBBONS as punishment for burning the Quonset down and for killing two goats which were destroyed by the fire. She allegedly made SAUL bury the goats after which he was "beaten all day" with bamboo sticks by the adult members of the commune while the BRAYTONS and DUERRSTEIN watched. SAUL was then put in an "A" frame building by the "cow pens" and chained to the heavy metal plate. He allegedly stayed in the "A" frame two weeks, during which time he was fed only bread and water. Thereafter, he was transferred to the 6' by 6' wooden box in which he was found on 7/26/69.

A week or two after SAUL's original punishment at the commune, a meeting was held at the O.T.O. Temple, 2627 Menlo, Los Angeles. JEAN BRAYTON told those present that as punishment for setting the fire she had burned SAULS's hands with matches, made him dig the grave and bury the carcasses of the two goats. and then chained him in an "A" frame, where he was to sit in Asana, a yogie position. She then said that when it was convenient, she was going to give SAUL LSD and set fire to the structure in which he was chained and give him just enough chain to get out of reach of the fire. She asked if anyone had any objections or better ideas. No one, including SAULS' mother, BEVERLY GIBBONS, who was present at the meeting, had any objections. ROBERT DUERRSTEIN suggested they kill the child, but JEAN BRAYTON said this would not be necessary. BEVERLY GIBBONS allegedly remarked during these conversations that it was "sacrificing one to save many".

Absolutely harrowing reading.  The former members of the Solar Lodge claim that this was a gigantic conspiracy among the conservative community at Blythe to 'get back at them' for their 'weird beliefs.'

For some reason, I have my doubts, although the group WAS getting attention.

The Solar Lodge bookshop, The Eye of Horus

One of their members was busted before the Gibbons fracas for selling marijuana in front of their bookstore, called The Eye of Horus.  Reportedly, even by people who claim that the Gibbons case is mostly disinformation such as Frater Shiva, Brayton was enraged that the man was conducting his own business, outside of the group. Even from a sympathetic perspective, Brayton doesn't seem to come across as a very nice individual.  She, like Mary Ann MacLean of the Process, was the head of all operations.  She had the money to purchase large amounts of land (MacLean tried to do the same, but was often in dire financial straits), and was very strict and possessive towards her 'wards.'

Celibacy was the order of the day, with the claim that sexual energy could be transformed into magicakal workings.  No one was allowed independent thought, children were separated from their parents (again, according to the sympathetic account by Frater Shiva, Brayton sought to destroy 'the family').  She was a desperately jealous god.

However, Shiva's account is based upon the claims by loyal Lodge members and his own experience - he claims every time he saw the boy, the boy was engaged in re-building efforts.  This doesn't conflict with Gibbons' testimony.  It doesn't necessarily mean that he was not chained up otherwise.

Brayton was also a thief, who stole Crowley relics from Sascha Germer (the widow of Karl Germer, who was the head of the OTO in the US until his death). These were relics that the boy supposedly burned when he started setting fires (or was accused of doing so, anyway).

A  group of individuals, believing the O.T.O. was dead, took it upon themselves to break into certain homes and steal the Crowley libraries -- just as Soror Meral had feared would happen. Their intent was to preserve what they felt was rightfully' theirs and to re-establish the O.T.O. This sounds like a noble gesture but, regardless what these individuals thought, they had no right to other people's personal property. Wanting to jump-start the O.T.O. was one thing, but their methods of obtaining Crowleyanity was felonious and nothing less than pure thievery

The first break-in occurred in the summer of 1965, the second in1966. Both were at Mildred Burlingame's house, an old Agape Lodge member whose husband had died shortly before the first incident. The third break-in occurred shortly afterwards and was at Israel Regardie's house while he was away. The fourth house which was ransacked was at West Point, Califomia, the home of Sascha Germer.
Unlike the earlier cases, Sascha Gerrner was home during the theft. It began when someone knocked at her front door. She asked who it was and a reply was heard that it was a member of the O.T.O. Unfortunately when she opened the door she was immediately sprayed in the face with a gas, knocked to the floor and overpowered. A drug was then injected by a syringe which knocked her out cold. When she came to she found that her house had been ransacked and that many books in the second floor library had been stolen. Aleister Crowley's personal robes, many O.T.O. documents and ritual papers were also missing. Sascha tried to call the police but found that the phone lines had been cut. When she finally did notify the local Constable, he took her story, along with a few photographs, but no fingerprints were taken or any serious investigation was done. Soror Meral has stated that it was obvious that "they put her story down to the wanderings of the demented mind of a lady who had been alone too long." In other words, they didn't believe her. Her house was dirty, being normally in disarray, and they weren't sure she was actually burglarized.
[Sascha accused a fellow member's daughter of the theft, The member, Soror Meral, said that her daughter had no interest in Crowley, and began her own investigation]

Soror Meral immediately began a personal investigation to discover the identities of the real thieves and to clear her daughter's name. One of the people who responded to her letter of inquiry was an Agape Lodge member named Mildred Burlingame. It was during a visit with Mildred that Soror Meral learned that her house, like Sascha's, had been burglarized. She was quick to learn that Mildred had her own suspicions as to who was responsible for the thefts. She believed that it was a former student of hers named Georgina 'Jean' Brayton. The first time Mildred's house was broken into it showed absolutely no signs of forced entry. Since Jean had keys to her house, she became a suspect. Mildred decided to change the locks and because of such, the next time her house was burglarized a back window was jimmied open.

While this does not prove that Brayton was responsible for the burglary at Germer's, it does seem as if burglary was not unfamiliar to her. Like MacLean, she also had an aversion to cameras (I can find absolutely no pictures of the woman anywhere).

A drawing of Brayton, 1973

Former cultists also claimed that Brayton had a tendency towards racism and a belief in an apocalyptic race-war that would destroy civilisation (shades of Manson, again).  Others, of course, claim that this is false and come up with theories as to why people would slander Brayton.

Ed Sanders, who I will detail later, wrote thus:

One grim anecdote tells how the cult had managed to instill its racism into the six-year-old Anthony Gibbons. After the arrests, the lad was sent to a foster home where he was cared for by a black lady. The boy requested a sword from her so that he might perform a magic ritual called "The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram."

The woman remained nearby as if to observe the ceremony but Anthony announced that "we don't let niggers watch."

For those who are not hip to their occultism, the Ritual here, known also as the LBRP or LBR, is a ritual from the Golden Dawn that is performed to banish all impurities in the magician's area.  It's a very basic ritual, in that it is used routinely by occultists of different stripes, to cleanse the ritual space.

On its own, the Solar Lodge is pretty obscure.  The only reason this case is even remembered is because of Sanders, and because of his connecting the group with the greater dark occult scene in LA, that the Process and Charles Manson, were also members of.  There's no connection between the Solar Lodge and the Process, except that they both had very apocalyptic views (as did Manson).

In fact, the Solar Lodge OTO was not even a legitimate organisation, insofar as the official OTO of the US is concerned.  Brayton had been intiated appropriately, but she had no authority to create a new temple.  Of course, she did anyway.

After some convictions were scored against the people arrested during the police raid, the Solar Lodge of the OTO changed its name to the far more unwieldy "Velle Transcendental Research Association, Inc."  Brayton remained on the lam for about eighteen months, before finally returning, her husband and Gibbons' father in tow.  They received surprisingly low sentences, especially for being federal fugitives.

Brayton's husband was found not guilty, while Brayton herself pleaded no contest and received probation and a fine of $500.  For federal child abuse charges. Gibbons' father pled guilty, but I can't find what his conviction was.  It was probably fairly small, too.

Brayton and company claimed they fled the country because they were afraid of a "biased" trial.  The "Velle" group still exists to this day.


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