Podcasts, Season 3 — August 26, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Episode 315: Satanic Panic with Matt Staggs

Satanic Panic

Satanic Panic

This episode features a discussion of the Satanic Panic, a moral panic of the 1980’s which ruined lives and annoyed teenagers with tales of Satanic influences in youth culture.

More about our guest, Matt Staggs.




  • Like the dynamic of you guys together. Hope you do it again.

  • Just listened while walking my dogs. Love the show. Keep them coming! But I am not sure if you two are actually members of a satanic cult trying to throw us all off the scent or what. I mean Satan is a liar ‘n stuff.


  • Loved this episode! I watched the panic unfold, as a Heavy Metal Dude and D&D Geek growing up in a sleepy Christian-Conservative town. We never saw anything quite like the West Memphis Three unfold, but I could definitely see the community reacting the same way if we’d had some kind of tragedy that could be pinned on shaggy-haired misfits in Metallica t-shirts.

    Here’s an interesting tidbit I came across when researching a similar topic a while back, a very fascinating person who was at the center of the Satanic Panic: LCOL Michael Aquino — Army Intelligence officer (at the Presidio), as well as a high-ranking member of Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. He grew disillusioned with LaVey’s atheistic beliefs, and left to found the Temple of Set, of which he was the high priest for many years. He’s still alive to the best of my knowledge, but has officially retired from both the Army and the leadership of the ToS. He and his wife (Lilith, also a ranking Satanic prelate) were accused of child abuse by a zealous Christian Chaplain, who seemed to have a personal vendetta against them. In a summarized response (available as a PDF on his website) of a book he wrote to address the scandal, he says that in spite his being cleared of all charges, no actions were taken by the chain of command against his accusers — who broke several military regulations in the process of “investigating” him. He ultimately faded from public view, ultimately retiring honorably from the Army years later.

    Except that, during the same time that Project StarGate was going on (q.v. “The Men Who Stare At Goats”), he was working on post-Vietnam updates to the Army’s Psychological Operations manual, and a premise paper was leaked — “From PSYOP to MindWar: The Psychology of Victory” — which only added to the mess. Now he’s a favorite figure in various conspiracy theories that link the government to Satanic activity, most often “Project Monarch,” a (probably fictional) successor of the infamous MK-ULTRA programs. Project Monarch is said to exist under the cover of Satanic cult activity to provide (among other nefarious goods and services) mind-controlled assassins and sex slaves for the rich and powerful.

    During the furor, Aquino appeared on Geraldo Rivera’s show, defending Satanism from accusations by Geraldo and Ted Gunderson (who I’m sure you’ve heard of). He’s evidently still active on the internet, appearing to post responses and refutations to blogs and videos which repeat (and often, embellish and expand) the discredited charges against him.

    His name appears under Leadership on Wikipedia’s Temple of Set page, but he doesn’t have a page of his own… which appears from the Talk Page to be because it was deleted, at least partly at his request, but also due to persistent edit wars over the various allegations against him, which were evidently either un-sourced, or with sources that didn’t meet Wikipedia’s standards.

    His infamous paper, “From PSYOP to MindWar: The Psychology of Victory,” is frightening for a different reason than most conspiracy theorists think … as he mentions himself in a 2003 commentary to the paper, the (completely non-supernatural) psychology and propaganda techniques he outlined were used on the American Public, and the World, to sell the Iraq War.

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