“Christ said ‘Love thine enemies.’ 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 Judgment. The Judgment is wisdom, the execution of the judgment is love.”
Robert DeGrimston — Unity of Christ and Satan
Strange, pipe smoking philosophy that eventually even The Process eliminated. The philosophy’s pedigree was not unique. It was inspired by some elements of Eastern Mysticism– unite opposites to bring harmony. This was quite the rage during the antiestablishment movement in the 1960s. During the counterculture many things could be put together to form a strange lego house.
Robert DeGrimston was the founder of The Process and its chief philosopher in The Haight. One attendant on DeGrimtson’s preaching was a man named Charles Manson. A few years later he would adapt Process thought to his own philosophy or, better put, for his own practical goals. He listened to the preaching in Haight in 1967 when he got out of prison at Terminal Island. At the Haight he was greeted by a utopia– a massive street culture, almost a festival of life and flowers everyday, everywhere. He bedded down on Coles Street, not far from a prominent Process member, Brother Elias.
Manson had studied philosophy in prison, so he was an eager listener to any new ideas. But he was also a person who needed to survive now. It was a bit easier in the Haight. Life had taken to the streets. Outcasts and runaways were arriving daily. They could easily be distinguished by how mainstream they looked. Soon they would be flower children.
He started his “Family” here and cruised up and down the California coast with the “Family’s” first member, Mary Brunner.
It is unlikely “Charlie” had any intention to put religious philosophy in action, but he had seen that DeGrimston was doing well in the Haight by claiming he was a metaphysical return of Jesus. Manson’s messianic approach was early, however. This is evident in how he impressed Ruth Ann Moorehouse’s father, Dean Moorehouse, a former preacher. After a short stint to Mendocino, which then made Ruth Ann No 3 in the Family, Mary and Lynne Fromme (No. 2) bunked with the Rev. Dean could see some Christ-like attributes in Manson. The LSD probably helped the former Rev. cozy up to Manson.
It certainly wasn’t Manson’s appearance that swayed Dean Moorehouse. He didn’t look much different from his prison pictures yet, as confirmed by his brief arrest in Mendocino. But there was an element to Manson’s philosophy that swayed the Rev. So he let them stay a few weeks, and let Manson fornicate with the girls while the preacher contemplated his stirring philosophy.
After The Family left, Manson began to center himself around LA. As far as Charlie was concerned, the hippies looked too different. This didn’t make the Haight appealing. LA was a little more free rolling and not too extreme. Manson needed a career. He had impressed a preacher. Maybe this was the place to be.
In the greater LA area his “Family” grew. Ruth Ann son joined them and with his new black Volkswagen van he was seen as this wild, crazy guy with a harem of chicks. On the surface the Family and he seemed pure hippies. But there has always been a strange flotsam around LA trying to make it big in entertainment. It is perhaps memorialized best in the song Car Wash. Thus in this new hippie era many hippies and aspiring talent looked the same and intermingled. Manson was soon seeing that his philosophy could be adapted to music.
It is a fact that he would actively cultivate and try and hold talented men– Paul Watkins, Brooks Posten, and especially Bobby Beausoleil.
Manson preached antiestablishment. This was sincere. In the mores of the times, it really didn’t go noticed that he pimped the Family women to attract men who could help him in his music endeavor. Aside from this inspiration from his lawless background, he set his girls to go dig through the grocery store trash bins and, if necessary, Sexy Sadie or another would have sex with the manager to give them their pass. Credit card theft. Drug dealing. Auto theft. Yes, to all. They appeared your mainstream hippies on the surface, but they really weren’t. He was a Fagan working grown up thieves. They were in and out of Bel Air mansions and then finally shacked up in old shacks (literally) on a rotting old western movie set. This was Hollywood’s type of hippie.
Thus at this time Manson worked two MOs– hippie religion (with him as a Jesus figure) and a potential music career. The first didn’t make any money. Yet it gave him power and it gave him the appearance of being a New Age guru. This is what opened the door to Hollywood. The antiestablishment was the biggest fad to ever hit the nation, and the music business wanted to cash in.
So far, Charles Manson had not coiffed himself to look anything like the popular paintings of Jesus. He had shown himself practical. He hovered between.
Something changed in late Spring 1969. There have been interpretation’s as to what caused it, but that is not the point of this article. The purpose is to highlight that when things changed, “preaching” refined to a point with a practical purpose.
Tex Watson returned to the Family in Spring. He quickly noticed how different things were. Helter Skelter was being preached. The end was coming. They had to prepare. Again, Manson wasn’t being original. He was preaching The Process’ end of the world scenario, which they felt was soon to come. Apocalypticism was rampant throughout the culture at the time, so The Process’ preaching wasn’t too arcane. But The Process had a rather influential slant on it within hippie culture.
Robert DeGrimston had written up The Process scriptures and preached the end of the world in the baroque grandeur that was The Process’ façade in Haight. That’s why they were known as The Process Church of the Final Judgment. He believed that the 144,000 in Revelation were the chosen Processeans, and The Process by its preaching would reveal them and save them from the wrath and upheaval to come.
Manson copied it all. His motive, however, was unlikely to be sincere. This can be deduced from his jailhouse interviews. In one, he makes light of the term Helter Skelter, saying that this was “the prosecutor’s word.” A rather bad lie, considering Tex Watson scribbled it in blood on the La Biancas’ refrigerator. Manson also doesn’t appear very apocalyptic in jail. My experience with studying true cult paranoids has told me that they really believe what they preach. Take Jim Jones, for instance. He was so apocalyptic that he moved his cult to Jonestown in Guyana, sure that they would survive the nuclear holocaust coming. When there was no way out, Jones too committed suicide with his followers.
I do not know why Manson is called an evil genius. If genius amongst cult leaders is determined by how many lives they take with them, then certainly Manson pales by comparison to Jones. He took over 900 people to death with him, whereas Manson’s Family was a clique of petty thieves, dopers, and prostitutes. He too preached the 144,000 and that Death Valley is the place where they’d be saved, but with 20 or so Family members, he was far short of the required number to fulfill Revelation.
Charles Manson’s unique gift was in determining character.
By summer Manson needed money. According to Little Paul (Paul Watkins) there had been a lady in Malibu who had given Manson money. There were times when they had walked around with thousands in their pockets. But Manson needed some heavy cash now. He burned Lotsapoppa. Then he feared Lotsapoppa was tied-in with the Black Panthers.
Manson unquestionably feared retribution. And he feared it from those he feared the most– black people.
Now he began to preach love and judgment. His influence on some must have been enormous. In the academy nominated documentary Manson (1973) by Robert Hendrickson and Laurence Merrick we see this clearly. It was being filmed while Manson was awaiting trial and continued after he had been convicted. Those of the Family that were free appeared in it. We get a taste of how they believe Manson is Jesus:
Brenda (Nancy Pitman): “In other words Christ is Love. Now, Charlie is Love. That makes him Christ 1. He’s already died once, for the whole world, on a cross. You can’t kill a man twice.”
The motive for the murders was love. Love of brother. Sandra Good: “We knew that Charlie would give his life for a brother. And the girls loved Bobby enough to do this. They were willing to die as they took those people’s lives.”
Brenda: “Did I know at the time? Yeah.”
Merrick: “How did you feel about the baby?”
Brenda: “Not one way or the other. In other words, I knew that it was all perfect.”
Good: “Sure, as perfection is.”
Merrick: “Why the La Bianacas?”
Squeaky. “There aren’t any whys. No whys at all.”
Good: “Uh-uh. It was simply a move.”
Squeaky: “The soul moves. The soul– why war? Why anything?”
Good: “Why abortion?”
Squeaky: “Why birth? (pause) We are.”
Merrick: “If you had to kill more, you’d kill more?”
Good nods affirmative.
Squeaky: “Whatever we have to do. We leave our house open to the soul. We leave our mind open.”
Merrick: “And you may get an impulse and go out and kill tomorrow?”
Fromme was blank, then there was a slight grin, acknowledging hesitation.
Good, nodding: “If it was right.”
The above also helps the reader to understand to what extent Manson inculcated his “Family” with his own style of rationalization. In every jailhouse interview, he has shown sensitivity to the issue of guilt. At times he explains what happened in 1969 logically, though perhaps not honestly. When guilt is raised, he goes off onto completely odd tangents about “holy war” and then how many are being killed in other ways.
Before “Charlie got on his Helter Skelter trip,” as Paul Watkins declared, “All we did was f—–g, and if we weren’t doing that we were leading up to it.”
But after the Helter Skelter trip, we can see how he tailored their sex addiction to inspire murder. In another dissertation, Gypsy expounds: “Jesus Christ died with a hard on. He died with a beautiful smile on his face. . . because it’s a total climax to die. It’s all music. All sound. All beauty. All color. All at once.”
Putting all this together gives us the following– Jesus’ judgment is wisdom and Satan executing the judgment is love. Add a few of the other tidbits above, we can also understand why Tex Watson proclaimed something when he burst upon the Tate living room. Knife brandished, he proclaimed “I’m the devil and I’m here to do the devil’s work.” From what Manson had been picking from Process philosophy it fits. This was judgment. Manson as Jesus made it. Watson was carrying it out. He thus was Satan executing it. This was love.
In one jailhouse interview Manson quipped: “They tried to convict me of being Jesus and the devil. Now try and figure that one out.” He used this as a sign of how goofy the prosecution was, but he knew the meaning behind it. He learned it from The Process.
It doesn’t seem that “pigs” written on the door in blood sounds like love. But then many things don’t add up in the Manson chronicles. “Pigs” must come back to the “holy war” or the copycat angle the Family also claim was the motive in order to get Beausoleil out of jail. Kill two birds with one stone. Start a black-white war (at least locally) and get Bobby out. Then they would flee to the desert and get as many children out as possible to save them.
That’s why Sandra Good said everything they do is perfect, because it is all leading up to save the remnant from the apocalypse: “Whatever is necessary to do, you do it. When somebody needs to be killed, there’s no wrong. You do it. And then you move on. And you pick up a child and you move him to the desert. You pick up as many children as you can, and you kill whoever gets in your way. This is us.”
Love basically is what they wanted to do. The effect on their victims isn’t a part of the equation.
By Charles Manson putting into action Process theology a great truth was revealed. It doesn’t work. It was not love. Murder was not love. Manson may have convinced Tex it was judgment and thus he was doing the devil’s work who executes judgment, and that Manson was being wise as Jesus in bringing this judgment. But it doesn’t work.
Charles Manson has always said he reflects what others wish to see. Thus he clearly tailored Process teachings to convince some that it was love to get Bobby Beausoleil out of jail. Others it was the final judgment. Whatever would convince them.
In 1976, Sexy Sadie herself– Susan Atkins– after her conversion to Christianity tried to blame the actual devil. In her first interview, a plea or ploy to get considered for bail already, she affirmed that Tex had declared “I’m the devil and I’m here to do the devil’s work.” Then she said he had inhuman power. Her implication was that it was the real devil. A divine hand, on the other hand, kept her from bringing down the knife of Freykowski. God spared her from being a murderess. Tex did it all. The devil had deceived them.
Perhaps it wasn’t the devil, but evil is selfishness empowered. No conscience; all for self. The devil may not have done this, but certainly a disciple of evil did.
For 25 years Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.