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Fort Hood Archive

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Below you'll find:

Essay: The Pentagon and the Pentacle
Witches in Combat Boots: Pagan Rituals on Army Base Cast Controversial Spell
Hate Crime at Ft. Hood
Military Humor
Fort Hood 1999 Archive

Essay: The Pentagon and the Pentacle

By Carl McColman

In the spring of 1999, Georgia congressman Bob Barr sent shockwaves throughout the Pagan community when he repeatedly attacked the presence of Witchcraft on U.S. military bases. Upset by the existence of a visible and apparently successful
Pagan organization at Fort Hood in Texas, Barr introduced legislation to prohibit the practice of Wicca or any other form of Witchcraft at Defense Department facilities. Barr's motion went nowhere in Congress--and it resulted primarily in galvanizing Pagans to become more aware of our precarious status as a minority religion.

But the Barr fiasco also served to highlight the quiet revolution that has been occurring in Paganism, as more and more Pagans enter the armed forces (and increasing numbers of military personnel embrace the old religions).

For the rest of the essay, go to
Carl McColman is a Pagan freelance writer and author. Visit him online at

Witches in Combat Boots:
Pagan Rituals on Army Base Cast Controversial Spell
By Peggy Wehmeyer

ABCNEWS' Peggy Wehmeyer reports that a constitutional protection of religion for some means condemnation from others.

FORT HOOD, Texas, June 23 -- At the U.S. Army's largest military base, soldiers train by day for combat in enemy territory. But late at night, some of them meet under a moonlit sky here in central Texas to cast spells and invoke pagan goddesses.

They are the Fort Hood Witches, a group that includes active and retired Army personnel who are devotees of Wicca, a pagan religion.

Wiccans believe there is divine power in nature and that they can harness and direct that power through chanting and magic rituals. 

Pagans Draw Ire of Local Clergy 
But some local pastors, who consider witchcraft part of satanic worship, are outraged the Army is making room for witches. And conservative Christian groups are telling young men and women not to join the Army until the witches are banned.

"The leaders of our country," shouts the Rev. Jack Harvey from his pulpit at the Tabernacle Baptist Church, "are going to give count to God with how they deal with witchcraft because our precious single soldiers are going to be involved in it if they allow it on military forts."

The pagan ceremonies are allowed at Fort Hood because several years ago, the Army brass here recognized Wicca as a legitimate religion. Since then, a handful of other U.S. military installations have sanctioned pagan rituals. Pentagon Defends Religious Freedom Pentagon officials say it's their duty under the First Amendment to allow soldiers to practice their religion, whatever it may be.

"Federal courts and statutes decreed that they are an organized religion and thus they fall under the protection of the Constitution," says Maj. Gen. Bill Dendiger, chairman of the Armed Forces Chaplains Board.

But the Army does insist that the Wiccans not perform their rituals in the nude.

Marcy Palmer, a six-year veteran of the military police and the Wiccans' high priestess, considers the Army supportive. "They think it's good that everybody is allowed to express their own spirituality," she says.

The Wiccans say their critics misunderstand them. Witches don't sacrifice animals, worship the devil or cast evil spells, they say.

"Parsley, sage, rosemary, fennel," they chanted during a recent ceremony. "On the heat of these flames we hope that these herbs will carry our message to the rest of the world for understanding, tolerance, peace, harmony and love."

The Fort Hood witches say that despite their unusual rituals, they deserve the same respect and are entitled to the same rights as the followers of any other religion on the base. And the Army seems to agree.

Hate Crime at Ft. Hood

This communiqué may be freely distributed only in its entirety.

Thank you all for your interest, support, love and especially your judicious reaction to this incident.  Our Distinctive Faith Group (DFG) Leaders at Fort Hood, Marie and Ron Smith, are following up on this with post command and chaplain authorities. The Sacred Well Congregation, as Denominational Sponsor of the Fort Hood Open Circle, is coordinating information and activities with Department of Defense level agencies.

Following are the details of the incident of Saturday, October 28, 2000.  As soon as the crime was discovered, Marie and Ron were contacted.  They directed our folks not to touch anything and to stay away from the areas entirely until proper action was taken.  The duty chaplain was notified at the same time that the MPs were called; the duty chaplain did not visit the scene but said that he would make a report to the Garrison Chaplains office the following Monday.

Unfortunately, the criminal investigation got off to a rather poor start. It was a procedural matter, and probably not one of intentional neglect or incompetence. The responding patrol contacted the patrol supervisor who came to the scene and then contacted the Military Police Investigations (MPI) unit.

The investigators did not respond because the pecuniary amount of damage was, at first glance, not sufficient to involve them.  Therefore the crime scene was not brought under control and a proper crime scene investigation was not conducted. Apparently, neither the patrol supervisor nor the investigators that he contacted realized the actual dollar amount involved. The alter stone was a 4X4X1 ft slab of dressed limestone, weighing over half a ton and set on two very large limestone blocks The altar stone alone was worth several Hundred dollars. It was deliberately broken by a person or persons using either other stones or some kind of instrument like a sledge hammer.

From a cursory examination of the broken pieces, it appeared that a hammer was probably used. The broken pieces of the altar were strewn about the circle, and some were removed. One of the broken pieces left near the altar had a blue cross crudely marked upon it. The stones of the circle itself were scattered and some were broken and removed as well. There was also a considerable amount of ancillary vandalism that occurred and was reported to the MPs on the night prior to the desecration of the Circle itself.  The group had been hosting a "haunted forest" for the public and community for almost a week. Some of the props were stolen or destroyed, and items were moved around in one of the buildings that our group uses for classes and social activities.

This act was not a child's prank. It required one or more persons of sufficient strength and stature to do significant damage, and has all the appearances of a hate crime. It should, therefore, fall under the Attorney General reporting requirements as mandated by US Public Law 101-275.

Unfortunately, as noted, the crime scene was not protected and it is doubtful if any useful physical evidence can now be obtained from it. Heavy rains over the weekend probably destroyed anything of remaining evidentiary value. At this point, however, it is doubtful if a more intense investigation will prove useful on this particular case.

This is the fourth reported incident of vandalism in recent months. There have been numerous other minor ones. This fact alone should have been enough to alert authorities to the gravity of the incident. The area used by our group is a common-use area, and there are other groups and factions that use it that are hostile to us.

Boy and Girl Scout leaders have repeatedly complained to the chaplains that they do not like to take their children into areas that are used by "Satanists." (Camp Finlayson is only one of four camps on Fort Hood, and is the most primitive of the lot).  There was a bulletin board located in the building our group uses for classes. The group posted schedules, contact numbers, etc on the board, and another group ripped it down because there was a pentagram on some of the paper posted on the board.

There was a very large, round concrete slab used to cover an abandoned well (perhaps a cistern) on a remote area of the camp. The slab had metal rings embedded in it with chains attached to it because it was obviously positioned by use of a crane or other heavy machinery. The chains were not removed after the slab was positioned. It was an eyesore in an otherwise primitive natural setting.

Our group, at their own expense, painted the concrete and decorated it with a large pentagram and used it for selected rituals for some time before it was "discovered" by the Scouts. The Scout leaders complained about the "Satanic" desecration of "their" camp and alleged that our group used the chains as implements of ritual torture. We voluntarily painted over our religious symbols; the chains were obviously left from when the cover was positioned many years ago by the engineers. We have tried to go out of our way to be non-offensive, accommodating, and tolerant to all other groups that use the area.

This latest incident, however, brought things to a new level of hatred, bigotry, and endangerment of life and property that can no longer be tolerated. Marie and Ron are requesting that we be provided facilities where we can be safe from harassment and vandalism, and enjoy free and lawful expression of our religion and practices.

Favorable resolution of this situation will take time and patience. As noted in the opening remarks, action is being taken at multiple echelons. The system will work if we allow it to.  Hopefully reparation and safe, protected accommodation will be forthcoming in an expeditious and propitious manner. While it is doubtful that an apprehension and successful prosecution will follow, it is certain that both the Army and the DoD are committed to religious pluralism and the accommodation of lawful distinctive faith groups in the military services.

I will close with a moving piece written by one of our members.  The following article, while not an "official" press release from the Sacred Well Congregation, clearly and concisely recapitulates the salient facts of the incident. It also poignantly describes the frustration, anger, and grief now being suffered on a very personal level by one of the members of the Fort Hood Open Circle (SWC). I believe it also poignantly resonates the feelings of every member of the FHOC, every member of this Congregation, thousands of others who follow alternative spiritual paths, and multiple thousands of tolerant and open minded people who follow the culturally dominant religions.

Imagine that you and your family are preparing to attend worship services at your local church. In the midst of getting your children ready you receive a phone call from a fellow parishioner informing you that your church has been vandalized. Upon your arrival at the church you find that altar top has been destroyed, the symbols of your religious belief have been torn from the walls and scattered carelessly. As you look at the remains of your Church you also notice that upon the remains of your altar the vandals have left their mark with graffiti. In your grief and anger you feel assured that the authorities, who are present and filling out police reports, will investigate the situation and apprehend the thoughtless vandals who have committed this heinous act of destruction and disrespect. In your mind you know that there is no way the culprits should be allowed to go unpunished. This is not only a crime of careless violence and destruction but a Hate Crime and a violation of your constitutional right to freedom of worship.

The clergy reassure you that justice will be served to those who have desecrated sacred ground, as they hastily prepare another area in which to hold the worship services. The next day you call your clergy to find out what has transpired, surely they have some good news for the congregation. However instead of good news you are told that the authorities have closed the investigation due to lack of evidence. No investigation has been done at all.

Obviously the perpetrators had keys with which to gain access to your Church, as there are no signs of breaking and entering yet the authorities insist there is no evidence. There was no formal investigation of the crime scene, no checking for fingerprints, no team of experts looking for evidence yet you are told the investigation is closed due to lack of evidence.

The scenes and actions described above are very similar to the scenario which my friends and family found themselves in on Saturday, 28 October 2000. The worship services were not in a church building but in a grove used by Fort Hood Open Circle on Fort Hood, Texas.  On the night of Friday 27 October 2000 or The morning of Saturday, 28 October 2000, person or persons unknown gained access to this sacred site and destroyed the limestone altar donated by its members. They dismantled and scattered the simple religious symbols provided by Nature with complete disregard for what these items meant to the members of Fort Hood Open Circle both for their religious symbolism and for the personal time and energy put into constructing them.

A mere twenty four hours after the reports were filed with the Fort Hood Military Police we are told that the investigation has been closed, that there was insufficient evidence to continue the investigation. Other than the Military Police who responded to the call looking at the remains of the altar and the area surrounding it and the filling out of their mandatory reports we have seen nothing to indicate that an investigation was even initiated. After repeated attempts to contact the Fort Hood Chaplains we have been told that reparations will be made to replace the physical items that have been carelessly destroyed, and that given time the military facilities at the site will be improved due to the fact that other organizations will be having increased use of these facilities. Is it too much to ask that our Country¹s service men and women be given the opportunity, respect and facilities to worship as they see fit provided their doing so causes no harm to others?

This is not an isolated one-time event, on several occasions since being recognized and sponsored by the U.S. Military and Fort Hood our sacred sites have been vandalized and personal property destroyed. Each time we have turned to Fort Hood authorities and Chaplains for assistance but have been given nothing but promises.  I am speaking out now in the hopes that our cries will be heard by people of all religions I ask that you take a minute to think, put yourself in our position and then do what your heart tells you is right.

If we speak together we are a chorus to be heard, if we whisper alone we are but a sigh in the dead of night.  In the past I have come across a saying that may provide food for thought in this situation, unfortunately I do not know who originally authored it or what their circumstances were but I would like to share it with you as food for thought.

"When they came in the night for the Jew down the road I said nothing, I wasn't a Jew. When they came for the people of different cultures around the corner I said nothing for Their heritage was not mine.  When they came in the night with guns and battering rams to MY door no one spoke up in my defense for there was no one left to do so".

Again, thank you all for your continued interest concern and support.  We will keep you appraised of progress as it develops.

Rev. David L. Oringderff, Ph.D. Acting Director of Military Affairs
Sacred Well Congregation

David L. Oringderff, Ph.D.
9011 Trainer Hale Road
Converse, Texas 78109

 Military Humor                           

                      Don't Tell Rummy

 Bishop to Pope:         "I have good news and bad news."            
 Pope:                           "What's the good news?"     
 Bishop:                        "God is Alive."                                                               
 Pope:                           "That's very good news, what's the bad news?"
 Bishop                         "She is dancing with the Witches at Fort Hood."

Ft. Hood Military Wicca News Stories:

Ft Bragg now stirs controversy-

Ft Bragg is considering allowing open Wiccan worship.   24 August 1999 

Witches able to Worship on US Military Bases-
The latest in the ongoing coverage of the Ft Hood spectacle.   26 July 1999 

I Saluted a Witch-  The Ft. Hood Issue hits Time Magazine.   29 June 1999

Finding Common Ground:
Constitutional dilemma greets military's Wiccan quandary-  June 29, 1999

Bewitching Logic: All Religions or None Should Be Tolerated on Military Bases -
June 21, 1999- A very good article which makes a very clear point.

Be all and anything you want in the Army-
June 21, 1999-An absolutely terrible article, one of the worst I have read in recent memory.  It actually left a bad taste in my mouth after reading it.  Be sure to add a comment to the forum link at the botom of the article.

Christian groups call for Army boycott over Wicca-
June 13, 1999- New articles regarding the Ft. Hood issue.

Witches Stir Controversy in the Army-
June 8, 1999-A Very good new article on the Ft Hood issue from the Washington Post.  A few inaccuracies, but overall very good.

Ft. Hood Army base is allowing Wiccans to openly worship on base!

Complete coverage of the debate for Wicca in the Military. 
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Created June 9, 2005