South African witches and vampires are angry with me.
I mean “witches” in the real sense of the word, practitioners of magic and curses. I name them as Gary Thomas Leff (a.k.a. Damon Leff), author Christina Engela and fake doctor Retha van Niekerk. Their roles in the pagan community, and their link to vampires, will be revealed.
As bizarre as that sounds, this is a true story about pagans supporting a fraudster in their midst. Although this author has no ill will towards the wider pagan movement, this article unavoidably involves some of their leaders who have spoken/acted against me in order to protect one of their own, albeit to the detriment of the movements they belong to.
When first investigating the fraud of Herman and Retha van Niekerk (Maritime Risk Solutions), i was more concerned about men with automatic weapons than witches. Nevertheless, i’m not surprised by the twists and turns in this story. In our small town of Knysna, i’ve learned that anything is possible and that the relationships between small groups are considered more important and untouchable than my longing for greater community.
WITCHES OF YSGITHYRWN
Dr Retha van Niekerk falsely presented herself as a psychologist and counsellor. The reality was that she only held a religious-by-email degree from the University of Sedona and that it’s illegal for her to use the doctor title in South Africa. My article discredited her.
In the aftermath, some friends and acquaintances were in shock or denial. To the best of my knowledge, none have spoken publicly against her treachery. They either distanced themselves or stood with her, choosing to be cowards, victims or accomplices to the lie.
Retha and her husband, Herman van Niekerk, belong to The Clan of Ysgithyrwyn which translated is the Clan of the Chief White Boar (or Bush Pig). The difficult to pronounce “Ysgithyrwyn” is a coven of Garden Route witches founded in 1998. It claims to be a “mystery religion” that includes “apprenticeship, magic ritual, religious ceremony and an initiatory rite of passage.”
Retha van Niekerk’s stepdaughter and one of her and her husband’s security operators were married in a handfasting (marriage) conducted by the clan in 2010.
When the game ‘Charlie, Charlie’ was ridiculously the rage in South Africa, Leff wrote an article about it, gaining input from a teacher, an occultist, two Satanists and Van Niekerk who was described as a “‘trauma counsellor and director of the South African Pagan Rights Alliance” (at that stage, she was standing in for Leff). She advised that, “Games of divination should be strictly supervised by informed Pagan parents, and never forced on a child, especially when they are not ready to participate. It is very difficult to set an age or family norm for this.”
Van Niekerk’s previous behaviour on Facebook has been unlike that you’d expect from someone claiming to be a mental health professional. In 2013, she posted: “May the piece of human excrement that decided to break my locked car’s window… be followed with misery and dread wherever he goes, and may the remainder of his life and those like him be continuously filled with suffering and dread until such time they internalise their sickening behaviour.”
It’s ok to be angry at crime but that sounded a lot like a witch’s curse.
Gary Thomas Leff is Ysgithyrwyn’s founder. He has chosen to be known by the first name “Damon”. It’s interesting coincidence that Damon is a character in the The Vampire Diaries television series and that Damon Leff and Christina Engela are supporters of the South African Vampyre Alliance (SAVA). Even Retha van Niekerk has been mentioned within its news page.
Modern day vampirism doesn’t mean fangs and bats but refers to a sub-culture of Goths who occasionally feed on animal or human blood, the latter a voluntary relationship. As everyone uses false names, separating what they refer to as a dayside (real) and nightside (alter ego) names, it’s hard to identify whose who in the lair but it’s notable that Leff and Engela are repeatedly associated.
When questioned, Leff stated that he and Van Niekerk aren’t members of the South African Vampyre Alliance (SAVA) but that questions about Engela must be directed directly to her. That seemed an admittance that Engela is a member,
In fact, i believe that Christina Engela is Octarine Valur, founder of SAVA and the South African Vampyre Community which mostly went underground when it was discovered that the SAPS Occult Crimes Unit still existed and classified “vampirism and joint infringement of the Human Tissue Act” as a crime.
Whether their criticism is valid or not, it’s notable that Leff, Van Niekerk, Engela and Valur have all written against Kobus Jonker, the man who heads the SAPS unit.
In turn, in May 2013, SAVA/Engela/Valur stood up for Leff and his involvement with the SAPC when he was allegedly being criticised by fellow members. She praised Leff’s relationship with the vampires.
Valur states, “I am a real living human Vampyre and an eclectic dark Pagan,” whose a transgender woman, writer and LGBTI & pagan human rights activist living in a coastal, industrial town. Engela is a pagan, transgender woman, writer and LGBTI & pagan human rights activist living in Port Elizabeth. Engela published an article about Magenta Dragon who became a recruiter for, and a sanguine vampire leader of, SAVA. In support of human rights of pagans, Engela’s most notable contribution was the well-written ‘Satanism, The Acid Test v01.03’.
Engela/Valur is also the Chief Researcher for the Alternative Religions Forum but may well be its creator too. The website’s aim is “to clarify misunderstandings around satanism which lead to the spreading of false information as propaganda used to persecute Satanists and participants in other religions and alternative sub-cultures.” Damon Leff is a contributor along with other SAPRA members, Satanists and Vampyres.
DAMON LEFF, SAPC & SAPRA
Leff is intelligent, well-spoken and has a passion for his topics, so much so that it’s easy to think that he, in effect and will, is the majority of the pagan councils he represents. Leff is the founder, owner and editor of Penton Independent Alternate Media (previously called Penton Pagan Magazine). Contributing writers include Engela, under that name and as Valur. Leff has mentioned Van Niekerk there.
Leff is a director and founding member of both SAPC and SAPRA. He is certainly their loudest voice but it cannot be ignored that Retha van Niekerk and her husband Herman are members of his coven nor that she and Engela are Executive Committee Members of SAPRA, and Retha a founding member of the the SAPC.
There appears to be dictatorship with a friendship bias as the constitution of SAPRA was amended in 2016 to declare that the Director (Leff) appoints Executive Committee Members and the Religious Marriage Officer Registrar (who is currently Van Niekerk). A few months before, an amendment to the SAPC’s constitution of 2015 made Leff and Dr. Van Niekerk permanent committee members of its Administrative Body.
The SAPC, SAPRA and SAVA, and Leff and Engela as writers, have opposed South Africa’s Witchcraft Suppression Act (Act 3) and sought amendment to the Prohibition of Harmful Practices associated with Witchcraft Beliefs Bill. Their efforts are applaudable i.e. there is a problem in our country where uneducated or selfishly motivated people can have someone killed by falsely naming them as a witch. Constitutionally, pagan witches have the right to separate themselves from non-related cultural superstitions that damage their image.
RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE VS RELIGIOUS HYPOCRISY
As a believer in democracy and the consequential tolerance and freedom of religion, i had no intention of maligning the SAPRA and SAPC. Judging Christians, Moslems, Mormons, Atheists, Pagans etc. by their actions towards others, outside their beliefs, is a more honest and practical way of interacting with our fellow human beings. Tolerance for what others do in private is fundamental to a positive and working society.
But there’s fundamentally something wrong when an organisation hides it’s full agenda and gains credibility from false certifications of one of their members. They repeat that Van Niekerk is a doctor. Elsewhere its stated that she’s a trauma counsellor. Both statuses require her to be registered with the Health Professional Council of South Africa (HPCSA) – she isn’t. The matter becomes more serious when the doctor title is being stated on a document seeking to alter the law (see Section 2 of SAPRA’s 2016 AGM minutes which is entitled ‘Review of the Witchcraft Suppression Act’.
SAPRA lied when it published that they are, “mindful of the laws of the land in which we live and proud to be South Africans and Africans.” That is part of their false image.
Instead of any reasonable action addressing the fraudster in their midst, the witches chose to support her and attack me on Facebook.
Engela ignored the evidence, claimed there was none, stated i was a fraudster and not a journalist who’d concocted a conspiracy, liable for slander. “May you get to deep throat the spoon you used to stir the shit pot with (real soon).”
Leff, in matching attack, ignored the evidence to accuse me of fake news, defamation, slander and crimen injuria. He stated that i’d crafted a conspiracy against SAPRA and that he was going to take legal action against me.
Leff went so far as to report me to the ISPA, claiming that my ‘Fraud: The ‘Psychologist’ & Men With Guns’ article was defamation against Retha and her husband. I received a 48hr take-down notice to which i, with support from my hosters, objected to (and now await resolution). I’ve said before that if my site were ever taken offline, i would use the opportunity to prepare court cases (which would include suing the offending parties). However, an enormous amount of effort and pain has gone into my activism so the first course must be to fight back (this article may primarily be in the public interest but forms part of my defence).
The witches’ negative actions suggest that they were aware of Van Niekerk’s false credentials which, in turn, would mean that they were willing to use them to gain credibility. Consequently, It’s possible that their repeated, self-proclaimed belief in human rights might be a disguise. Maybe it’s only their rights and desire to seem respectable that they’re interested in. If so, that would make them more Satanic in nature.
A SATANIC SELFISHNESS
There are many forms of Satanism but one of the most well known is atheist Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. LaVey’s belief in man being an animal that’s in the survival of the fittest rings true for the society we’ve unfortunately become but he also believed in magic. Magic wasn’t mystical but rather science of the earth that we’ve yet to understand. That fits in comfortably with Wiccan magic’s worship of nature.
Lavey categorised it as Higher and Lesser magic. The former is what most Westerners, believers or unbelievers, would define as magic. The latter, the Lesser magic, is what needs addressing here. “LaVey defined it as wile and guile obtained through various devices and contrived situations, which when utilized, can create change in accordance with one’s will. LaVey was stealing from Aleister Crowley, The Great Beast 666, who defined magic as “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will. “LaVey referred to it as everyday or situational magic, the practice of manipulation by means of applied psychology [wikipedia]. In the context of this story, that means that you can choose to become what you appear to be. Retha van Niekerk chose, without qualification, to become a counsellor and clinical psychologist (sub categories of applied psychology).
The Church of Satan’s commandments, The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth, may be more true to human nature than those of any other belief system. Relevant here are rules 4 and 11 which state, “If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy,” and “When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.”
That sounds more in line with what’s happening than with the happy image of loving Wiccans dancing around a tree whilst worshiping Mother Goddess. My offence to the witches was exposing the fraud of the Van Niekerks. My offence was to reveal the true selves of members of the coven which now wants to harm my activism, my fight against crime and corruption in the town i love.
Paraphrased, the Wiccan Rede, as supposedly followed by the witches of Ysgithyrwyn, is, “If no harm done, do what you wish.”. But in the case of this fraud, these witches are putting their coven first, essentially practicing, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” (the only law is to do whatever you want) as made famous by Aleister Crowley.
DON’T FORGET THE FRAUD
It would appear that the SAPC, SAPRA, SAVA and The Clan of Ysgithyrwyn are seeking to legitimise themselves through mutual back-slapping. I hope that the pagan community at large, those simple worshipers of nature, are embarrassed by, and condemning of, their behaviour. No group should be a law unto themselves.
For me, the main issue remains one of fraud and those that support it.
I couldn’t give a damn whether someone is a priest or a witch. Indecency doesn’t wear a label, it normally dresses in hypocrisy. One’s actions, not appearance, is what counts most. I have issue with criminals and those who support them, especially those who attack me or damage my home town. A moral pagan should be as outraged as i am, even more so for Damon Leff and Retha van Niekerk’s tarring of SAPRA and the SAPC. To act in any other way would be to represent evil.
Christina Engela’s quote rings uncomfortably true for the actions her fellow pagans: “Love has a power of its own – but power loves only itself.”
* * * * * *
Van Niekerk and Engela had yet to respond at the time of publishing. Emails between myself and Leff can be downloaded from http://wp.me/a1z0hX-2wW.
For those who wish to explore further or investigate for themselves:
- Damon Leff – email@example.com
- Christina Engela – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Retha van Niekerk – email@example.com
- Herman van Niekerk – firstname.lastname@example.org
Websites (these will include links to many more)-