by, Adam Gorightly
The Manson Family's sojourn into the desert was a withdrawal from society, and the continual harassment they'd begun to experience from The Man. It was also a spiritual quest of sorts, where--it was felt--they could finally become one as a family. Another aspect of the desert which fascinated Manson was that it was "a land where rivers ran upside down", a fact that obviously appealed to Charlie's "no sense makes sense" worldview.
Death Valley is part of the Great Basin, where literally thousands of streams run, though not one of them ever reaches the sea. Death Valley is the sink of the Amargosa River, most of which is below sea level. Here the stream beds are on top, and the water beneath the sand and gravel, a phenomenon that always perplexed Charlie, who, from the time he arrived in Death Valley, began speaking of "a hole" in the desert that would lead his group to water, and perhaps even a lake and a place to live. This was the place where Charlie would take his Family when "the shit came down."
Many days, Charlie would walk the desert floor in search of this mystical "hole". The idea of a "hole" was by no means a crazy one, since all water flowing into the Death Valley eventually emerges elsewhere in the form of springs. This entire mythology of subterranean worlds fell into place with Manson's "magical mystery tour" concept of I am you and you are me and no sense makes sense, which was more readily acceptable to the minds of his minions in the magical atmosphere of the desert. As Little Paul later noted: "The cosmic vacuum of the desert was a perfect place to program young minds."
A parallel to Charlie's vision of a magic hole was the Hopi Indian legend of "Emergence from the Third World". In the telling of this myth, there was a large underground world from which the Hopi Nation would reemerge back to the Earth's surface after Armageddon's embers had turned to ash. Manson, in all his acid inspired wisdom, believed in the geological possibility of just such a hole. Evidently there have been claims in the past, as well, about a huge city-sized cave beneath Death Valley, with a river running through it, fed by the mighty Amargosa.
While exploring the many hot springs of Saline Valley in September of '69, Manson discovered a spring that was so deep his feet couldn't touch bottom. So Charlie, thinking he might have discovered the secret entrance to the "bottomless pit", commanded Clem and Ouisch to jump in and see if they could swim to the bottom. Swimming, though, didn't work out, as the water was way too hot, so instead they tied the end of a string to a rock and sunk it down, but the spring crevice went off at an angle. Charlie mentioned something about getting skin-diving equipment to further explore the springs to see if they led to "The Hole."
Even after Manson was incarcerated for the Tate/LaBianca murders, his fickle flock was still going out on "Hole Patrol" in the attempt to find the hidden opening into this underground world. Remaining Family members came to believe that there was some sort of occult conspiracy in effect to conceal this secret entrance, and only Charlie held the keys of access to this subterranean paradise of milk and honey, overflowing with chocolate fountains.
According to Vince Bugliosi, Manson's main motive behind the murders was to provoke a race war that would later be blamed on black militants, due to a false "bloody panther paw" trail of clues left by Charlie's shock troops. This, in turn, would lead to the aforementioned race war (Helter Skelter!) when the whites would retaliate against the seeming black menace. While this war was raging overhead, Manson and clan would be safe underground, in their haven of paradise, The Bottomless Pit, staying high and making love while "the shit hit the fan" above.
This fascination with the bottomless pit first began to exhibit itself at Dennis Wilson's house, when Manson took to sporting a Bible, cracked open and folded down to Revelations 9. Of this, Charlie read knowingly: "From the shaft of the bottomless pit...came locusts on the earth, and they were given the power of scorpions. They were told not to harm any green growth or any tree, but only those who have not the seal of God on their foreheads...Their faces were like human faces, their hair like women's hair... They have a king over them, the angel of the bottomless pit."
In Will You Die For Me?, Tex Watson described The Bottomless Pit as "an underground paradise beneath Death Valley where water from a lake would give everlasting life and you could eat fruit from twelve magical trees - a different one for each month of the year. That would be Charlie's gift to us, his children, his Family. If anyone back in the Sunday schools I'd attended in Texas had ever mentioned that The Bottomless Pit was one of the names for hell itself, I'd forgotten it."
As the reader can see, Watson took the politically correct stance of labeling Manson as a manifestation of the Anti-Christ; a beguiling silver-tongued snake using the masquerade of Jesus' thorny crown to conceal his jutting red horns. Tex, like St. John before him, had simply been a messenger, albeit a dark one, bringing forth The Word of Charlie for those with ears to hear. But instead of uttering The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, the message Tex delivered for his false messiah was Helter Skelter!, with an exclamation point of stab wounds ritualistically delivered on Cielo and Waverly Drives. I'm the Devil, and I'm here to do the Devil's business! Later, Tex would become one of many Judas Goats who would betray their former leader, along with Sexy Sadie, and Manson's one-time right-hand man, Little Paul Watkins.
One possible entrance to "The Hole" was thought to be the so-called Devil's Hole in the northwest corner of Death Valley National Monument. The Devil's Hole, which is fenced off, is a forbidding pit of water, murky and ominous, inhabited by little blind fish. As legend as it, a couple of skin divers drowned in the early 60's trying to reach the bottom. For three straight days, it has been writ, Charlie sat crossed-legged before Devil's Hole, meditating with all his metaphysical might, contemplating the ultimate meaning of this bottomless well. After the third day, it dawned on Charlie that the water in the Devil's Hole was the door, or blocking mechanism preventing entrance into the Underworld. All Charlie had to do was find a way to suck the water out, and - lo and behold! - the secret passageway would be revealed.
Former Family member Paul Watkins, in his Tate/LaBianca trial testimony, gave his own spin on Manson's mindset during this period:
Our music was going to lure Whitey's daughters to the desert, away from Haight Ashbury. Blackie would have no other means of releasing his tensions, so would turn to the white establishment. The murders were going to start in rich places like Bel Air and Beverly Hills in the summer of 1969. The super-atrocious crimes would disturb the rich piggies; the spades would scare Whitey. They'd go to the ghetto and shoot the garbage man and the Uncle Toms. The Black Muslims would be in hiding. The whites would split up the middle, some saying, 'Look at the things you are doing to the blacks!' The whites would kill each other off. Then the Black Muslims would come in and kill the rest of them. Helter Skelter is the end of the cycle. What was on top had to go on the bottom. The karma of the whites is over and the black's karma begins. But then Revolution 9 takes over. This is described in Revelation 9. The black man would have to clean up the mess the white had made of the world, rebuild the cities and all that. But Blackie can't do it all alone. He will have completed his karma, and he'll have to come to the 'Family.' Charlie will pat his fuzzy head and kick him. Charlie will have to show him how. Meanwhile, the 'Family' will have grown to 144,000 like the twelve tribes of Israel in Revelation. Charlie encourages the girls to get pregnant. And we'll have buses to collect all the children when Helter Skelter comes down, so we can save them and raise them in our hole in the desert. The Bottomless Pit. That's in Revelation 9, too...Charlie's mission is to complete the karma of the world.
For those with ears to hear, the implications were quite clear: the four angels were the Beatles, and the fifth angel was Charlie! The "third part of man" was the white race; those who would die in the resultant carnage of Helter Skelter, wiped out for "worship of idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood," (Verse 20) which Charlie related to cars, houses, and money; those modern idols worshipped by piggies.
The passage: "And he opened the bottomless pit...and there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth; and unto them was given power as the scorpions of the earth have power" was not only a reference to the Beatles (i.e. locusts) but also implied that the power of the scorpion would prevail. (Charlie was a Scorpio.) Manson found references to dune buggies, as well as the motorcycle gangs he was trying to recruit, in such passages as "horses prepared to battle" and horseman that would roam the earth, spreading destruction.
In describing the locusts (Beatles), Revelation said that "their faces were as the faces of men," yet "they had the hair of women," and wore "breastplates of fire," which Charlie interpreted as electric guitars. Another verse from Revelation spoke of "fire and brimstone" coming from the mouths of the four angels, which Charlie interpreted as an allusion to the power of The Beatles' music and lyrics. Some have suggested that it really wasn't Charlie who invented 'Helter Skelter', but that he just became 'hip' to the concept, through 'channeled' messages via the Beatles. Other apocalyptically inclined cults in California of the period held similar beliefs regarding an impending eschatological disaster, so the Family was not unique in this respect.
According to one source, Charlie learned many of these secret signals from Alvin Karpis. During his infamous '87 interview with Geraldo Rivera, much ado was made about the mysterious hand-jive mojo Manson performed for the benefit of the home viewing audience. "I don't break laws, I make laws"," Charlie proclaimed, waving his arms in wild patterns. Occult insiders speculated that these hand signs were secret signals Charlie was sending to some shadowy satanic underground. In a interview conducted during the Tate/LaBianca trial, Charlie shed some light on his knowledge of this silent, arcane language of Freemasonry:
... Masons have that power. It's a secret that's been handed down since the Pharaohs. The secret wisdom. Jesus knew the symbols. The preacher and the judge got ahold of the symbols and they kept them to themselves. Judge Keene uses all those symbols. He'll make a sign like 'cut him off.' Or like when I get up to speak, he'll make a symbol to one of his marshals, and all of the sudden a whole bunch of people will be let in the court and there will be all this confusion so they can't hear what I'm saying. They use all those Masonic signs to hold power over their people. So I started using the symbols. Every time I got into court, or have my picture taken, I use another Masonic sign. Like the three fingers, two fingers outstretched. When the judge sees it, it really freaks him out because he can't say anything. When I see them making these signs in court I flash them back at them... .