Photo Credit: Talia Shea Levin

I first learned about THE SOCIETY through a short article on Nightmarish Conjurings. Shannon McGrew described it as a self-sufficient monastic order living in seclusion in the Angeles National Forest. With its focus on spirituality, ritual, and connection to the community and the universe, it seemed exactly like something I would aspire to join when I was a teenager. Living in a secluded group in a forest is still appealing to me now, but unfortunately my job and long-term career goals require a steady Internet connection. 

So, when Shannon told me that THE SOCIETY (now referred to as THE SOCIETY NOW) was offering the public a glimpse of their community and customs without the expectation of commitment, obviously I jumped at the opportunity. 

THE SOCIETY NOW had reserved a trail at the Devil’s Gate Reservoir in Pasadena, where they would lead “Seekers” through guided meditations and rituals. I packed a backpack with my notebook, some of my crystals, and a mason jar filled with wine to pour out as an offering—I may have abandoned the dream of living in the woods like a folkloric witch, but I still dabble in the craft. 

I drove from my concrete jungle comfort zone to the Devil’s Gate Reservoir with the windows rolled down and an episode of My Favorite Murder keeping me company. Then I realized, with just a modicum of trepidation, that I had neglected to tell my mom or any of my friends the exact location where I was headed. 

This is how people get murdered, I couldn’t help but think. 

Luckily I was not murdered (if that wasn’t already evidenced by the fact that I’m now writing this). No one even tried to kill me or really do anything untoward. In fact, everyone that I met in THE SOCIETY NOW was perfectly lovely. 

I first met Liz, the Prudent Necessary. She likened her role to that of a PR-slash-Communications Director and offered me a delicious and refreshing glass of sun tea. Liz told me that she wasn’t actually an official member of THE SOCIETY NOW; she explained that it was better for everyone if she remained an unbiased voice. 

THE SOCIETY first came ‘down the mountain’ in 2017 and it was a disaster,” she said. “There were intense allegations from these anonymous groups saying that THE SOCIETY was a cult and that they were involved in, like, ‘Satanic ritual murder’ and bad occultism. They even posted clearly edited videos that they tried to pass off as evidence.”

So, THE SOCIETY went right back up the mountain and re-secluded themselves. Until now. 

“You have to own your narrative or it will own you,” Liz said. “The way to handle these kinds of allegations is transparency.” 

Liz gave me an overview of what I was in for. I would walk along the trail alone and meet various women in THE SOCIETY NOW. They would guide me through the Thelemic initiation rituals of THE SOCIETY NOW. Rituals that involve crystal healing, animal spirit magic, herbs, potions, and holy waters and oils. 

“Don’t worry,” Liz winked. “There’s no white van at the end.”

I don’t want to give too much away. But I will say that the entire experience was beautiful in a way that I was not expecting. The solo walk along the trail helped ground me. The sound of the trees and grass rustling in the wind, the feel of dirt beneath my feet and sunshine on my face…it was all exhilarating and calming all at once. 

The members of THE SOCIETY NOW all had an uncanny knack for human connection. Each stop along the trail was hosted by one member, so each ritual was a one-on-one experience. It was intimate and special and it was immediately clear why these women chose to live in seclusion together. I have never felt so accepted by total strangers. 

I have no plans to join THE SOCIETY NOW (at this time at least). But I highly encourage everyone seeking spiritual fulfillment or understanding or anything to walk down the trail and go through the initiation rituals. 

Remember: there’s no white van at the end. 

For more information on THE SOCIETY NOW, and to purchase tickets, visit

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