Rethinking John Lennon’s Assassination
The FBI’s War on Rock Stars
By Salvador Astucia
PART IV: THE MANSON MURDERS
Chapter 8: Entanglements
Coincidence or Conspiracy(?)
In my research of John Lennon’s life, career and murder, I observed a disturbing entanglement in the following seemingly unrelated areas:
The information you are about to read is the only attempt by anyone to connect the dots between the stated events.
Timothy Leary inspires Lennon
For a few years in the mid and late sixties, Timothy Leary inspired several leading artists and intellectuals of the day. Leary was an American psychologist, author, university professor, political activist and leading advocate for widespread LSD usage. John Lennon and film maker Roman Polanski were both interested in the middle-aged professor who coined the phrase, "turn on, tune in, and drop out," a popular counterculture slogan of the sixties. The controversy that surrounded Leary eventually made him an enemy of the FBI. Leary was regarded as an influential member of the New Left.1 Consequently, anyone who dealt with him became tainted in the eyes of the Bureau.
From what I have read about Timothy Leary, I am satisfied that he was a genuine individual, although somewhat eccentric. By genuine, I mean he was not an FBI informant or something comparable. At least I have found no evidence indicating that he was. While I do not subscribe to his philosophy about LSD, I believe his opinions were sincere. I strongly suspect, however, that he became surrounded by backstabbers—like Ralph Metzer and Richard Alpert, for example—who pretended to be his friends and colleagues, but encouraged him to endorse extreme and absurd opinions.
Leary was drawn to young people. When Rosemary’s Baby was released in 1968, Lennon was 28, Polanski was 35, and Leary was 48. It is uncertain if Lennon and Polanski were personal friends or acquaintances, but Timothy Leary was certainly a central source of inspiration for the two young artists.
Lennon wrote at least two songs inspired by Leary: Tomorrow Never Knows and Come Together.2 In the famous December 1980 Playboy interview, Lennon described the inspiration for Tomorrow Never Knows quite simply: "That’s me in my Tibetan Book of the Dead period."3 He was of course referring to the book, Tibetan Book of the Dead, co-authored by Leary, Metzer and Alpert. Leary participated—along with many other celebrities—singing the chorus of Give Peace a Chance which was recorded at John and Yoko’s bed-in around May-June 1969 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.4
In the same interview Lennon described how he originally wrote a different version of Come Together for Leary’s presidential campaign.
Note: Lennon’s reference to Leary’s presidential campaign is a mystery, apparently a mistake. I have been unable to locate any evidence of such a campaign except on a Usenet discussion group: alt.sports.baseball.bos-redsox, Dec. 12, 1999. Eric M. Van stated that his "rock critic buddy Paul Williams was Leary's ‘campaign manager’ when he ran for president." I found Paul Williams’ web site and sent him an email asking him to confirm whether Leary ran for president or not. He could not; however, Williams said Leary planned to run for governor of California in 1969 and had asked him (Williams) to be campaign manager, but it never got off the ground. The full email exchange with Williams is in Appendix F.
Prior to the skirmish over Come Together, Leary was quite impressed with the Beatles. In the sixties he reportedly described them with the following glowing words:
Polanski’s association with Leary was less direct than Lennon’s. The young film maker was reportedly an associate of Michael Hollingshead’s, one of Leary’s LSD disciples. Hollingshead established an organization in London called the "World Psychedelic Centre." Polanski was one of WPC’s associates along with Donovan and Lennon’s partner Paul McCartney.7
Polanski’s kinship with Leary was widely known by the late sixties. Lyricist James Rado memorialized the two men in a song, Manchester England, from the Broadway Musical, Hair. (1968) Here are the lyrics:
Lennon was interested in Leary for about three years, from 1966 through 1969, while he took LSD. In a 1970 interview for Rolling Stone, Lennon denounced Leary and acid. Here is an excerpt:
I doubt that Lennon’s public admonishment of Leary satisfied the FBI. Once the Bureau places your name on its list of enemies, it’s difficult to get it removed.
Leary and Arthur Koestler
Another colleague of Leary’s was writer Arthur Koestler. In the fifties, Leary had a distinguished reputation as a promising young scholar and became a lecturer at Harvard University in 1959. After taking psilocybin mushrooms in Mexico in 1960, Leary returned to Harvard and started the Harvard Psilocybin Project. As part of his research he gave mushrooms to Arthur Koestler and Allen Ginsberg, amongst others, and recorded their impressions. He concluded that psychedelic drugs could be effective in transforming personality and expanding human consciousness.9
Roman Polanski may have been inspired to make Rosemary’s Baby by Leary and Koesler. It is uncertain if Polanski and Koesler knew one another per se, but they were both friends with Leary. Like Polanski, Koestler was a Jew who seemed interested in exposing the darker side of his heritage. In 1974 Koestler wrote a controversial book about the history of Judaism entitled, The Thirteenth Tribe. Koestler’s book exposed the myth that Jews have a right to return to Israel. Koestler revealed that most Jews in the modern world are descendants of the lost nation of Khazaria, a country in eastern Europe that flourished as an independent state from about 650 to 1016. Around 740, the king of Khazaria issued a decree making Judaism the national religion and ordered citizens of Khazaria—Khazars—to convert. Prior to that, Khazaria’s predominant religion was Shamanism, a type of paganism from which Wicca later evolved. Wicca is a religion of sorts, but is really a euphemism for witchcraft. In fact, Wiccans openly refer to themselves as witches. In addition, Wiccans openly acknowledge Shamanism as a "mother religion."
Leary, Koestler, Lennon, and Polanski were apparently working together under Leary’s leadership; a force to be reckoned with. All four men were eventually destroyed or driven out of the country. After arrests in 1965 and 1968 for possession of marijuana and a prolonged legal battle, Leary was incarcerated in 1970. He soon escaped and became a fugitive, living outside the United States for more than two years until being recaptured in Afghanistan. He was freed in 1976 and settled in southern California.10 On March 3, 1983, Koestler and his wife Cynthia took their own lives. Koestler reportedly suffered from leukemia and Parkinson's disease;11 at least that’s the official story. Lennon of course was assassinated at his home in Manhattan on December 8, 1980. In 1977 Polanski was arrested and eventually pled guilty to a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. He subsequently jumped bail and fled to France, where he remained active in both the theater and motion pictures.12
In 1968 Roman Polanski released the renowned horror movie, Rosemary's Baby, based on the book, written by Ira Levin, about witchcraft and satanic cults. Mia Farrow played the lead character (Rosemary Woodhouse), supported by John Cassavetes (Guy Woodhouse), Ruth Gordon (Minnie Castavet), Sidney Blackmer (Roman Castavet), Maurice Evans (Hutch), Ralph Bellamy (Dr. Abraham Saperstein), Charles Grodin (Dr. Hill), and others. The movie was completed in late 1967 and premiered in June 1968.13
In the movie, an elderly couple—Minnie and Roman Castevet—befriends Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor husband Guy, but the elderly couple are really witches. They lure Guy into their witch’s coven by helping him get ahead in show business. In return, Guy helps Minnie and Roman drug Rosemary and take her unconscious body to a secret witches’ coven in the apartment complex. The witches tie Rosemary’s legs down and smear animal blood on her nude body. Then they conjure up the living devil who rapes and impregnates Rosemary during a satanic ritual witnessed by the entire witches’ coven, all nude. Rosemary’s husband Guy is one of the nude witches and he observes his wife being raped by the devil.
Nine months later, Rosemary gives birth to the devil’s son who is promptly snatched by the satanic worshipers. By then Rosemary has caught on to their treachery and she fights them aggressively.
Many of the actors who played the witches were either Jewish or exhibited stereotypes commonly associated with the Jewish culture. For example, there’s an old stereotype that Jews have poor table manners. This stereotype is brought to life in a scene where Rosemary and Guy have dinner with Minnie and Roman Castevet at the latter couple’s apartment. Ruth Gordon—who plays Minnie—shamelessly exploits the poor table manners stereotype when she serves cake as dessert and eats hers like a pig. She stuffs huge chunks of cake in her mouth and contorts her face constantly, moving her entire mouth left to right as she chews aggressively, almost spitting chewed cake mush on her young guests. Then she shovels more cake in her mouth slanting her fork from an upward position.
Another example of a Jewish witch is Rosemary’s doctor, Abraham Saperstein—obviously a Jewish name. Rosemary’s original doctor was a Gentile named Dr. Hill, but Minnie insisted that Rosemary switch to Dr. Saperstein. Of course no one actually says Hill is Gentile and Saperstein is Jewish, but their respective ethnic backgrounds are quite obvious.
A third example of a Jewish witch is a doctor named Shan, who looks extremely Jewish. Minnie Castevet introduces Dr. Shan to Rosemary at a gathering at the Castevets’ apartment. "He used to be a famous dentist," Minnie says. "He made the chain for your charm." Earlier in the film, Minnie had given a charm bracelet to Rosemary.
Judaism & Witchcraft
Portraying Jews as witches is obviously a sensitive area, given the persecution Jews have suffered throughout history for allegedly practicing witchcraft. But Judaism overtly places Jews on equal status with God, struggling to overcome him. In fact, the word Israel literally means ‘he struggles with God.’14 Being equal to God, rather than worshipping Him, is the essence of sorcery or witchcraft. Within this religious context, it is easy to understand the ancient relationship between Judaism and witchcraft.
The practice of witchcraft, or sorcery, receives tacit endorsement in the Talmud. The following passage clearly states that some forms of sorcery are entirely permitted, while others are exempt from punishment, yet forbidden, and others are punished by death. The following text is from the Talmud book of Sanhedrin:
(Talmud, Sanhedrin 67b)
Although certain forms of witchcraft are permissible under Jewish law, the Talmud reveals that extreme measures have been taken by Jewish leaders to keep unacceptable forms of witchcraft in check. The Talmud cites a specific instance where an ancient Rabbi—in around AD 200* —tried and executed other Jews in Palestine for practicing witchcraft. Ironically, the Rabbi’s actions were similar—if not identical—to the actions taken against Jews by the Catholic Church centuries later in Europe during the Inquisition. The Rabbi’s name was "Simeon B. Shetah." He hanged 80 women in the city of Askelon, located on the Mediterranean Coast of Palestine, for practicing witchcraft at an "alarming rate." Rabbis later commented in the Talmud that the executions were illegal—not because they were inhumane or cruel, but because two defendants must not be tried on the same day. The following text is from the Talmud book of Sanhedrin:
(Talmud, Sanhedrin 45b)
Blood Libel, a recurring theme in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’
Rosemary's Baby made overt references to blood libel, the sacrifice of Gentile babies by Jews. The term blood libel was not used in the movie per se, but the topic of killing babies by witches is a recurring theme. Here is the transcript from one of the early scenes where Rosemary’s father-figure friend, Edward "Hutch" Hutchins warns her and Guy not to move into the Bramford because of its history of witchcraft and killing babies.
Eventually the witches realize Hutch is working against them, and they cast a spell on him putting him in a mysterious coma from which he does not recover. Before he dies he regains consciousness and tells one of the doctors to give Rosemary a book in his study entitled All About Them Witches. The book is delivered to Rosemary and she quickly learns that her friendly elderly neighbor, Roman Castevet, is really Steven Marcato, son of Adrian Marcato, the man Hutch warned her about; the man who practiced witchcraft and claimed he could conjure up the living devil. Rosemary realizes that Roman Castevet is an anagram for Steven Marcato. When she makes the discovery, she warns Guy. Here is the transcript of Rosemary telling Guy about witches and blood libel:
The blood libel charge against Jews is obviously controversial, although it is not directly encouraged by the Talmud; however, it appears to have a historical basis. On November 16, 1491, five men were executed at Avila for the ritualistic murder of a four-year-old Christian boy (later known as the "Holy Child of La Guardia"). Two of the men were Jews, the other three were "conversos"—Sephardic Jews who converted to Christianity. The boy’s heart was reportedly cut out and used with two stolen consecrated hosts in a ritual of black magic against the Christians.
For centuries the case was tainted because the five executed men had been tortured prior to confessing. But in 1931, historian William Thomas Walsh offered persuasive evidence in his book, Isabella of Spain, that the charge of blood libel was in fact true. Walsh found the testimony of a Jew who stated that he witnessed the crime, and had not been subjected to torture. Although the Spanish Inquisition was already underway, it was ritualistic murder of the young boy that resulted in expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. It was the last straw.
Before the executions, two independent judicial panels had reviewed and confirmed the Inquisition’s findings.15 On November 24, 1805, the murdered boy was canonized as St. Christopher on the authority of Pope Pius VII.
It’s interesting that Roman Polanski, the director of Rosemary’s Baby, is Jewish. Polanski was born on August 18, 1933 in Paris, France. When he was a boy his parents migrated from France to Kraków, Poland where his parents were placed in a Nazi prison/work camp, where his mother died.16
Powerful forces within the Jewish community likely did not think kindly of young Polanski’s movie about Jewish witches. The fact that Polanski himself was Jewish, and his mother was a victim of Hitler’s persecution of Jews, gave credibility to Polanski’s suggestion that many Jews practice satanic forms of witchcraft. No one could accuse Polanski, a Jew, of being anti-Semitic.
|1||SOURCES: The statement that "Leary was regarded as an influential member of the New Left" is a logical conclusion drawn from several articles. (1) Leary’s problems with US law enforcement are described in Encyclopedia Britannica: Leary, Timothy; however, the FBI is not mentioned directly in the cited article. (2) The FBI’s infiltration of the New Left is discussed in Chapter 10 of William Sullivan’s book, The Bureau: My Thirty Years in Hoover’s FBI; however, Leary is not mentioned specifically. (3) Numerous sources have described Leary’s views as those espoused by the New Left; however, these sources to not literally label Leary as New Left.|
|2||SOURCES: (1) Overview of Leary is from Encyclopedia Britannica: Leary, Timothy. (2) Lennon cited Leary as the inspiration for the following two songs: Tomorrow Never Knows & Come Together. He describes both songs in the Playboy Interview, published April 1981. Leary’s influence in Come Together is also mentioned in Lennon Remembers (1970 Rolling Stone interview with Jann Wenner), pp 89-90.|
|3||Playboy magazine, April 1981, interview with John Lennon by David Sheff; Tomorrow Never Knows description on p 196|
|4||Fenton Bresler, Who Killed John Lennon? (1989), p 74|
|5||Playboy magazine, April 1981, interview with John Lennon by David Sheff; Come Together description on p 182|
|6||Nicholas Schaffner, The Beatles Forever, p. 71|
|7||Michael Hollingshead, The Man Who Turned on the World, Chapter 6: London on my Mind|
|8||Jann Wenner, Lennon Remembers, pp 53-54|
|9||SOURCES: (1) Encyclopedia Britannica: Leary, Timothy; (2) Information about Arthur Koestler’s and Allen Ginsberg’s participation in the Harvard Psilocybin Project came from popsubculture.com, reference http://www.popsubculture.com/pop/bio_project/timothy_leary.html|
|10||Encyclopedia Britannica: Leary, Timothy|
|11||Encyclopedia Britannica: Koestler, Arthur|
|12||Encyclopedia Britannica: Polanski, Roman|
|13||Vincent Bugliosi & Curt Gentry, Helter Skelter, p 39|
|14||Genesis, 32:22 - 32:31, New International Version, Bible (Old Testament); Reference Footnote # 5: …Israel means he struggles with God.|
|15||Holy Child of La Guardia: The complete record of testimony of the trial of one of the accused has been available since it was published in 1887 in the Bulletin of the Royal Academy at Madrid (Vol. XI, pp. 7-160), from the original manuscript.|
|16||Encyclopedia Britannica: Polanski, Roman|