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The Black Dahlia Murder and the Occult

The Black Dahlia Murder and the Occult

As a follow up to our recent article covering the notorious Black Dahlia case, we would like to consider possible connections to the occult which we strongly believe motivated the murder of Elizabeth Short.

As a follow up to our recent article covering the notorious Black Dahlia case, we would like to consider possible connections to the occult which we strongly believe motivated the murder of Elizabeth Short.

As faithful readers of these Chronicles already know, Dr George Hodel (1907-1999) murdered Ms Short (1924 – 1947) on January 15, 1947, leaving her bisected, highly mutilated and tortured body in an open lot in Los Angeles. Hodel followed up with additional murders in the Los Angeles area, as well as 20 years later with murders in the San Francisco area, in each instance sending notes to the respective police departments defying them to do anything about his deeds.

Given Hodel’s psychology and the ritualistic gruesomeness of the murders, a couple of readers of Dr Hodel’s son’s website asked Steve if his father was involved in the occult. The son’s response was a firm no:  “In conversations with me, he made it clear that he had total disdain for anything metaphysical or ‘occult.’”

Our view is decidedly different based upon the company he kept, and the modus operandi of his communications.

In the first place, I am not entirely certain that I would trust the words of a psychotic serial murderer. Former Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Blinder, stated bluntly on national television that the last obligation of a central banker is to tell the truth, revealing his own occultic sympathies. The very essence of occultism is to worship Satan in symbols known only to the initiate – everyone else is lied to, or informed in very cryptic messages.

So if telling the truth is the last duty of a central banker, we believe that the same could be said for a lifelong murderer. In other words, we would not rely upon the “good” doctor’s words to draw a conclusion about anything. We would instead look at his actions.

It could be true, on a technicality, that Hodel was not formally an occultist, but his life was wholly consistent with one. If one reads Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma, or any of Satanist Aleister Crowley’s works, one knows that lying is the foundation of their religious cults. But sexual rituals and murder are also foundational to Satanism – areas where Hodel’s life was deeply troubled and at variance with societal norms.

The complete repudiation of societal norms is precisely the philosophy of Talmudism and Satanism as Jonas Alexis has shown repeatedly in his erudite writings on these subjects. We can safely say that Hodel was advanced in these topics, seeing absolutely nothing wrong with incest (which he committed), lying (which he committed), and murder (which he committed). In all things, Hodel followed the Crowley maxim, “Do what thou wilt.”

Hodel’s affinity for the occult is further seen in his artistic passions, one of which was Dadism. As Steve notes in his blogs, Dadism is the repudiation of all things rational, normal, or conventional. Dr Hodel was an avid art connoisseur with close friendships with the surrealist Man Ray, some time art dealer Ernst “Baron” von Harringa, and author Henry Miller.

One of Miller’s writings shows the occultic, Crowleyan thought:

Sex is only one of millions of ways of expressing oneself. The important thing is the expression, not what is expressed. If it would help men to liberate themselves I would recommend them to have intercourse with animals or to fuck in public or to commit incest, for example. There is nothing in itself which is wrong or evil, not even murder. It is the fear of doing wrong, the fear of committing murder, the fear of acting, or expressing oneself, which is wrong.

Not only was Miller engaged in the repudiation of the social order, but so was Herringa whose very close associate W T Smith established in Los Angeles the Thelema Church and the rites of Ordo Templi Orientis, a satanic cult established in 1904 by Aleister Crowley (1875 – 1947).

And finally we have Man Ray’s admiration of the Marquis de Sade and his philosophies equally consistent with Satanism. Ray was Hodel’s family photographer, occasional artistic benefactor, and close friend.

Thus 3 men who figure prominently in Hodel’s life are fully fledged, card carrying, and practicing Satanists. One of their most gruesome rituals was the murder of Elizabeth Short. While we can only positively identify Hodel and Harringa as the murderers, Ray and Miller, if not present in body, were certainly there in spirit. Steve is reasonably certain that Ray, even if he did not participate, was aware of his friend’s murder of the Black Dahlia.

Another person of interest, artist Fred Sexton, shared fully in the religious beliefs of Harringa, Miller, and Ray, and is fingered by Steve Hodel as a likely suspect in the murder of Elizabeth Short and others.

We agree that Sexton’s participation is speculative, but we still believe that he was a participant. We are on firmer ground with Harringa’s participation as he is heard during surveillance discussing the murders with his doctor friend, Hodel warning him to admit to nothing.

One other area of the murder which points to its occultic nature is Hodel’s use of the Ogham alphabet to spell his name in the return address space of a Halloween card sent to the San Francisco Chronicle in 1970.

This type of linguistic device is found in Crowley’s works which use the Daggars alphabet, but, the practice of planting evidence in plain sight – if only readable by the initiate – is the hallmark of occultism as Paul Is Dead analysts know all too well.

Our suspicion – and again we do not have any video or other testimony to prove it – is that Ernst Harringa was the master of ceremonies of the ritualistic murder of Elizabeth Short, which may have been religiously significant to Hodel, but which was most certainly important to Harringa.

Whether or not Dr Hodel was formally a practicing Satanist is merely a technicality. The company he kept, and the rituals he practiced were keeping entirely with the spirit of the vile Aleister Crowley and his devotees in Hollywood, and later especially, in Laurel Canyon.

None of this is to say that we rule out psychological explanations for Hodel’s actions, but it would be an error to omit causality from the occult. One interesting note which Steve disclosed about his father was Dr Hodel’s great difficulty grasping humor – something which is indeed a Diagnostic Statistical Manual phenomenon.

For someone who claimed to disdain the occult, Hodel certainly kept occultists in good company.


David McGowan, Weird Scenes Inside The Canyon, Headpress, 2014

Steve Hodel, Black Dahlia Avenger/Zodiac: Unexpected Help from Home and Abroad- Announcing the 2015 Inspector Clouseau Award Honorees, stevehodel.com, December 4, 2015, accessed 1/18/2016

Steve Hodel, stevehodel.com, FAQ 38, March 30, 2007, accessed 1/18/2016

Steve Hodel, Bugging Tapes “Baron” Identified, stevehodel.com, May 25, 2009, accessed 1/18/2016



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