The witches meet on April 30 on top of the mountain and there are whole pagan cults and secret societies gathering deep in the woods for weird rituals. True or wrong?
If there is one thing which makes it nearly impossible to distinct if it was fiction in the first place or fiction which was inspired by real events then it is secret cults in the forest.
Today it seems that there have been some cases which look from a skeptical point-of-view like inventions of the modern time. In 1939 a British occultist named Gerald Gardner was supposedly initiated into a witch-coven and founded later the “Wicca” movement. “According to the beliefs held by coven members, the faith which they followed was the continuation of the “Witch-Cult”, a pre-Christian religion”(Wikipedia) However researchers came to the conclusion that the New Forest coven had never existed and that it was simply a fictional invention.
The ideas of that time were inspired by Margaret Murray’s “Witchcraft In Western Europe”. Murray, an anthropologist, propagated the theory “that until the 17th century there was a religion, much older than Christianity, which all over Western Europe had supporters both among ordinary people and the ruling classes” (Wikipedia). This “Cult of Dianus” was the ancient religion described in detail in the Golden Bough”.
Scientists in our days are very skeptical about the ideas of Margaret Murray and her theories which also shed a strange light on the origins on the witch-craze. It is more likely that the cultist and so called pagan activities in the woods were an invention by the witch-hunters who wanted to set up paranoia in the minds of people.
However we have many reports of some form of cults and secret meetings which took place in certain forests even in our days.
Particularly haunted forests are very likely to house secret cults. Some of the scariest stories happened in “Freetown-Fall River State Forest”, Massachusetts in the US. Brent Swancer, Mysteriousuniverserse.org describes the The Cursed Forest Of Massachusetts:
“There seem to be places in this world to which strangeness seems to gravitate. Whether it is their geography, topography, or some inexplicable, unseen forces, these locations possess what can only be described as a certain disconnect from reality as we know it. They are imbued with some sort of undercurrent of mystery, strangeness, and sometimes even terror”.
The Freetown-Fall River State Forest is a paranormal hotspot with a history of crimes and mysteries: in 1978 a teenager-cheerleader was found murdered and over the years there have been murders and other crimes with alleged satanic or cult activity. The cultist activities were mentioned in two murder trials. Nevertheless there is a lot of speculation here and once a place has a certain “reputation” there could be also imitations or wrong-leads.
A very good lead for secret activities in the woods is the European “Beltane” or Walpurgis-Night on April 30. It seems there is a history for secret meetings particularly on top of some mountains, which were called “Blocksberg” (Blocksberg was a reference not only for a certain mountain but for different mountains were the witches danced). The “Walpurgis-Night” on the “Blocksberg” became famous when it was used by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in “Faust”. It is well known that Goethe did a lot of historical research, thus the central scene with the witches deep in the forest on top of the mountain wasn’t just only a fantasy but somehow inspired by a real motive. It might not what Mrs Murray thought about a Witch-Cult but some kind of folklorist tradition.
The motives stem from the European tradition of magic. There is a deep tradition in Europe for magic, demonology and superstition and even we mostly have never seen a magic ritual we know what it is. In 1972-73 there were were headlines in newspapers about a black mass or cultist activity on the small Danish Island of Anholt. The case included interviews with an actress Hannes Smyrner who gave the theory of cultist activity some credit. However there was never some real evidence but it was the traces which triggered the rumors. People somehow remembered the concept of magic rituals. The “secret cult” is like an image we all know but we can’t remember where we have seen it or where we heard about it in the first place.
In the end we have a strange feeling about most of these cases of alleged cultist activity – they are often pure inventions but on the other hand we feel there is some sort of truth here. When H.P. Lovecraft murmurs in his stories about the unspeakable cults in the forest he sounds convincingly; like an expert, like someone who has really seen these things.
It looks like modern cultists doing some kind of “reenactment” of some old tradition which seems to exist on another plane of reality. Maybe all the cases of alleged cult activity have been sort of reenactment of something we don’t know where it ever existed.
And the most astonishing fact is that it’s not the band of teenagers or former hippies who are acting out some strange play in the woods – it’s powerful men like the politicians and leaders who meet in the “Bohemian Grove” in California every year.
The case of the Freetown-Fall River State Forest becomes even more mysterious if we think of all the phenomena which were reported in this so-called Bridgewater triangle: we have alleged cult activity but also some sort of little monsters, restless Indian spirits, light orbs and – of course – big UFO sightings. This sounds like from a bad script of a B-movie: a typical case of too-many-motives. Not very believable.
However the wild mix of very different paranormal and other occult phenomena is typical not only for the Freetown-Fall River State Forest but for most of the “haunted forests of this world“. Since there is not much evidence – I would at least expect in our days a 4kvideo taken with an I-phone of the beast of the forest with so many researchers roaming these forests – the witness accounts sound not very credible at first sight. However if we look it from another angle the mix of phenomena with the alleged cults seems to be more like one piece of a kind of symbols of one big phenomena we don’t understand. It is one piece of a big jigsaw-puzzle and we still see these pieces but never the whole picture. The haunted forest and its secret cults are kind of an archetype. The paradox of archetypes is that they are very real but obviously exist on another plane of reality which is not exactly ours but very close to our plane of existence.