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Excerpts from an interview with Khem Caigan, conducted, edited, and composed

“Witchcraft” is an Anglo-Saxon word. As far as we can tell, it means “craft of the wise.” It refers to any technology for getting things done—catching a fish, staunching a wound, getting your cows to make milk, establishing a relationship with your neighbors—entities seen and unseen. It was very utilitarian. My entry into witchcraft was through ASP—awareness during sleep paralysis. It was beautiful. It was brutal. It was a second reality with its own beings.

Photo of Khem Caigan with digital painting by the artist

The world of spirits—the Sabbath experience which is somewhere at the mysterious core of witchcraft—incorporated some elements from the Dionysian revelers of the Greek Mysteries. What they described was so extraordinary, no one can tell if their experiences happened when they were awake or sleeping. They spoke about people being chopped up and then put back together. And they recounted these tales as if they really happened in a place they had gone the night before.

What was described as the witch’s Sabbath is something I was experiencing long before I could read: flying through the air; being torn to shreds and coming back together; having things like rocks put inside me. I discovered them later in literature. It gave me something to hold on to of my own because there weren’t any corollaries in the world I was being brought up in.

At that time I was living in Hawthorne, New Jersey at the top of the mountain. This is where we saw the spaceship. It was ovoid, 30 feet across, 20 feet high. It had a tube coming out of the side. I still remember the strange being standing outside the spaceship. It was six or seven feet tall—with no face. It was a featureless black cone. I told my parents and was beaten.

So they sent me to Dr. Harry K. Panjwani at Christian Sanatorium. I was an outpatient. He immediately labeled me a psychotic. His diagnosis was to lobotomize me! My mother and grandparents were fine with that, but I wasn’t. I knew it was a simple procedure. The doctor could do it right there in his office. I remembered reading that many women in the feminist movement were lobotomized. They were told, “We will lobotomize you and you will be a better housewife.”

Some kids at school started calling me a witch. Then a boy mentioned it to someone who was on the Bergen County Record who thought this would make an interesting story. So I was interviewed. My mother was at the interview. She was there the whole time. She, more than I, should have known the consequences when a story appeared in the paper with the headline, “Witchcraft Really Turns Him On.”

The article in the newspaper described my experiences. It showed I had intimacy with energies moving through the world around us. It related my idea of how spells work. It explained that whatever it is you are looking at has aspects of everything in the entire universe. Once you realize that, the communication follows. This holographic paradigm became apparent to me before it appeared in pop science. There are quite a few people in the field of neurophysiology that believe there are holographic mechanisms in the way our brains work. The part contains the whole. As above, so below.

I had a pretty good idea that this news story was not going to fly with the churchgoers. But I didn’t realize that a copy was going to turn up on the desk of Dr. Panjwani. I had spent months convincing him that I was taking the Thorazine and that now I was completely normal. In our discussions, I displayed no aberrant thought processes or behaviors. I was being the model adolescent. When I saw a copy of the newspaper open to that page with my story on his desk, I panicked and immediately began looking out the window, preparing to run for it, convinced I would be lobotomized that very day. Instead, it turned out he studied the field of parapsychology and was pleased to have someone around that might help him understand how such phenomena work. According to his theory, people like me simply foresaw the future.

After that, Dr. Panjwani considered me the golden boy. He had a live specimen. He could discuss with me his own theories of psychic and extrasensory perceptions. He thought I was just misinterpreting my mind set. But to me, it was clear. I witnessed things like stones levitating. I would think of them moving in one direction, and they would move in that direction. I didn’t feel that it was something I was doing. It was a communication between me and the world, something greater in the world that I was a part of. Like the clouds, the elemental energies themselves possess some kind of sentience. That is where most people draw the line.


Linda Weintraub

LINDA WEINTRAUB is an author, curator, artist, and permaculturist who specializes in vanguard art movements. Her most recent book, TO LIFE! Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet focuses on the intersection between art, ecology, and environmentalism.

Khem Caigan

Khem Caigan is a rogue scholar; artist, alchemist, kabbalist and daemonic astrologer. He is also the founder and curator of the Harry Everett Smith Memorial Library - open to the public by appointment only.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2014

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