A Witch's Conversion to Christianity
by Keith A. Morse
PROFILE: TOM SANGUINET
Tom Sanguinet, 34, "got into witchcraft by being born," he said. "My mother was a Wiccan. She was a practitioner of Wicca... My grandmother taught me most of what I knew... Then later on, a prearranged minister or priest came to me and tutored me in the priesthood." Sanguinet's mother was Celtic. The Celts came from northern Europe and are the people to whom the tradition of Wicca can be traced. "My great-grandfather on her side was from Scotland, and her mother was from Wales." Sanguinet's father was Roman Catholic, although Sanguinet never was formally raised in the church. Wicca had an appeal, Sanguinet said, although it took a while for it to really take hold of him.
"During the Vietnam era, I lost touch with just about everything except the Eastern traditions through the martial arts... I got to power seeking and through seeking power I got back into the spiritual side of 'the craft.'" Wicca was not forced on him, Sanguinet said. "'Here's an old way and here's an old way and this is what the ancients used to do'... that's the way it was presented."
After returning to the United States after a stint in the Navy, Sanguinet eventually teamed up with Gavin Frost, a leader in the Church of Wicca. He and Frost worked in a boatyard owned by the Wiccan church. Sanguinet was one of a new breed of Wiccans, who were going public with the Wiccan "gospel." "I was very active and very public. I recruited at colleges by going out and speaking on things like ESP, advanced classes on parapsychology and paranormal activities and metaphysics." He also stuffed library books on witchcraft and the occult with little tracts which included a post office box where people could write for information on witchcraft. Any method was fair, Sanguinet said. "Go out and promise them the world -- that's all you were giving them."
Sanguinet felt no guilt about any deceit he used. "I was of the attitude that people who were not in it (Wicca) were less developed and were younger spirits, even to the point that if they died and came back and they were so hung up on something that you couldn't get them out of it -- like praising the Lord --if they died, you could have a chance to start over with them. Witches don't feel like death or murder or any of that is any less than progression." As evidenced by that quote, Sanguinet thought little of Christians. "My opinion was, 'put them to the sword, burn a church a day.'"
However, he eventually found himself in direct contact with this "lower form of spiritual life." Sanguinet was visiting the family of his girlfriend in July 1981. His girlfriend had five brothers and four sisters, all of whom were Christians. One of her brothers "sat down and talked to me for hours," Sanguinet said. "He wasn't witnessing Jesus. That's the problem. He didn't show me salvation. He didn't show me Jesus. He just compared theologies. I think he realized his mistake later.
"We went to this little church while we were down there on kind of a dare from their family because I just wanted to show them that I wasn't afraid to go to their church." It was a little church with a lay minister and about 35 people, Sanguinet said. "I went up after the meeting there to this little pastor and I told him 'Hi. I'm Tom Sanguinet and I'm with the Milners over there and I'm a witch.' He dropped his mike cord. "I made a swift kill on theology and left without giving him a chance to say anything. I stepped down off the pulpit there and this lady walked up and said, 'We're gonna pray for you,' and I said, 'Oh fine. Big deal.'"
One day in September 1981, Sanguinet and his girlfriend got "somewhat crossways" and she announced that she was leaving. Sanguinet was not worried, thinking he could bring her back whenever he wanted to. Sanguinet "put her on the bus" the next day, a Friday."That night, I just flat tried to kill myself. I had a business worth $42 million, I had a house, I had property, I had automobiles, I had an entourage. I had all the people and all the things and everything the world could give. But I realized I didn't have any peace." He failed in two attempts to shoot himself. "After that, I just went to bed," Sanguinet said.
On Monday, he returned to work at the boatyard that he and Frost ran. Things were going badly that day, Sanguinet said. "Gavin was blaming me and blaming the 'negative energies' flowing from me for everything going wrong in the boatyard that day... That made me a little more despondent so I went home at noon for lunch and that's when I really realized that this girl wasn't there because we always ate lunch together.
"I was just sitting there real despondent," Sanguinet said. He then got the urge to pray. "I did believe in God. I believed in the Godhead. I didn't want to go through the Lord of Darkness and the Goddess this time. I wanted to reach God. And I said, 'God, help me,' and I really meant it. "This little voice said, 'Try Jesus.'" Hearing a voice was nothing new to Sanguinet, who said he was used to conjuring spirits. "I told that spirit, 'Get out of here.' But this voice said, 'No really. Try Jesus. For peace.'" And I said, 'Okay. Jesus, help me. See there, it didn't work. Now beat it.'
"But the voice didn't go away. Instead, it said, 'You're a sorcerer. You're a magician. You're a witch. You know that anything you do, you've got to mean it.' "So I said, 'Okay. I'll try it. I really will because I'm not afraid to try anything.' "I said, 'Lord Jesus, I don't know you very well, and you probably don't want to know me, but if you can help me, come into my heart. "And praise the Lord, the light went on and I had peace. And nothing else mattered."
Sanguinet immediately went down to the boatyard and told Frost that he was leaving. "I hadn't picked up the Bible, but I knew in my heart I couldn't stay there because I couldn't fellowship with the school of Wicca anymore. I couldn't compromise the peace that I had in my heart. "I told Gavin right then and there, 'I intend to destroy the school of Wicca. I intend to tear it down.'" Sanguinet walked away from all his possessions, since they were all owned by the Church of Wicca.
"I had $5 in my pocket. So the Lord just sent people by. Just out of nowhere people just started coming by saying, 'Hey we heard you broke up with Frost. You gonna be leaving?' "Two days later, I had $1,600 in my pocket." Sanguinet left for his father's home in Texas with "my Bible, my pickup truck and my motorcycle." Since then, Sanguinet has married and his wife is expecting a baby in late October.