Convicted Murderer Sues State Department For Not Allowing Wiccan Rituals

The prisoner, who is serving a life sentence, says he needs “dragon’s blood” and “carrot cake.”

Photo via Facebook.com

Photo via Facebook.com

A convicted murderer in jail for killing three people more than two decades ago is taking a state department to court because he claims they won’t allow him to have spiritual healing medicines and items like “dragon’s blood” to practice his religious beliefs. But pagans from the Boston community say the prisoner’s requests are giving them a bad name.

Daniel LaPlante, a prisoner currently in custody at the MCI-Norfolk jail, where he is spending life behind bars for the murder of a Townsend woman and her two children in 1987, is suing the state’s Department of Corrections claiming they have kept him from carrying out Wiccan rituals while serving time.

The Wiccan faith is a neo-pagan religion that focuses on nature using “mysticism, and natural magic or ritual.”

According to court documents, there has been a recognized Wicca presence at the jail where LaPlante is since the 1980s. In a document filed in U.S. district court, LaPlante, who is representing himself, claims the DOC has “hindered” his ability to practice his faith by not allowing him to obtain ritual oils for worship like “dragon’s blood,” “black opium,” and “honeysuckle.” In his court complaint, LaPlante lists more than 30 oils he says are essential to practicing his faith during the various cycles of the moon recognized by Wiccans.

LaPlante also claims that the DOC bars him from accessing healing herbs that remove jinxes, chase away demons, create connections to goddesses, and drive away negative spirits. LaPlante lists nearly 26 different herbs he says he needs to be able to use during regular meetings with other members of the Wiccan community within MCI-Norfolk, as well as varying robes and more than a dozen medallions, like “Thor’s Hammer.”

The plaintiff also argues that the group should be allowed to make an “earth offering” during certain celebrations, such as the celebration of a Full Moon, but currently, they are stuck in a basement during meetings and cannot even see the moon.

According to the plaintiff, cakes used during certain sermons within the Wiccan faith are meant to “excite the senses,” but the cake served by the DOC is “always the same,” and creates a somber environment during worship. To mix it up, LaPlante requested a different cake for each month, including a carrot cake, known by wiccans as “Wolf Ice.”

But Von Thompson, a practicing pagan from the Boston area, says LaPlante doesn’t “need” any of these items in order to be an active member of the Wiccan community, and that he is giving the group of worshippers a bad name. “We get so much misinformation spread about our religion, about our practices, that even a hint of anything out of the ordinary associated with Wicca gets blown out of proportion. It’s difficult to be Wiccan or pagan. Not only is our religion misunderstood, those misunderstandings also attract to us more than our fair share of crazy people,” says Thompson.

Thompson said in an email that group members often fight against the stereotype that LaPlante represents, including their association with Satanism, child molesters, murderers, and even animal abusers. “The list could go on,” says Thompson. “The funny thing is, I think were this man on the outside he would be terribly disappointed in most [Pagan] circles. We most of the time have one, maybe two, pieces of ritual jewelry, which might or might not be recognizable as a Wiccan symbol. Most of the time we wear street clothes. We serve gluten free cookies and organic apple juice for our ‘cakes and ale.’ We’re just not all that exciting.”

In court documents, a lawyer for the DOC says LaPlante has not “exhausted all administrative remedies” in order to obtain his requests, a statement that the plaintiff disagreed with.

UPDATE: The photo above has been changed to more accurately reflect a Wiccan ceremony, based on feedback from members of the community. 

  • JezabelleDisreali

    Uh, no. Plenty of Pagans and Wiccans practice their faith perfectly well with out fancy oils and cakes. Brownies and cookies work just as well if you understand the theory and symbolism behind it. He just wants more cake.

  • CapitalGrrrl

    Cry me a river, Danny. The children you drowned in their own bathtub (after raping their mother) will never eat cake or see the moon again. Life in prison is too good for you.

  • Kalysto

    None of the things he is requesting are essential to practicing Wicca. They’re just not. They CAN and are used to practice witchcraft, an art that is employed by Wiccans to varying extent. In fact it varies so much that there are Wiccans who do not cast spells and do not identify as being witches. “Witchcraft” is an umbrella term as there are multiple forms of it, most of which are secular. There are a few religious practices that employ witchcraft, Wicca being one of them. There are even Jewitches (Jewish witches) and Christian witches (how and why they justify the blending is up to them to explain.)

    Wicca is foremost a religion. It observes the cyclical nature of life evidenced in the changing seasons which are marked by 8 holidays known as sabbats along with monthly full moon observances called esbats. He doesn’t “need” dragons blood or the “more than two dozen other ritual tools…” being asked for to maintain Wiccan observances. He simply does not. Ritual area is purified by combining salt and water. There is a cake and wine to be partaken of and offered to the gods but, like in other religions, there are Wiccans who don’t or can’t consume alcohol. Milk, juice, water etc. are often substituted. Likewise, the cakes can be anything from a hunk of bread, dinner roll, biscuit, wafer etc. I.e., he is not lacking anything. The point is to give thanks using that which you have, whether it’s home made or grown, store bought, or prison provided. The only things he could argue being denied – and there are obvious safety reasons as to why they might not be allowed – are things like candles, incense and a ceremonial dagger called an athame (which is never used to cut). But even an athame is not absolute, many Wiccans simply use their hands in specific gestures.

    So unless the prison has denied him the right to observe esbats and sabbats, they’ve not done anything to prevent him from his religious pursuit. Wiccans who are financially strapped or have small children often opt for symbolic imagery in lieu of an actual thing. Can’t get outside? Find a nice photo of the full moon rising over water or a forest top. Can’t afford statues of deities? Again, find images to frame or hang on the wall. Can’t have materials that represent the elements? Various Wiccans, pagans and magic users also employ colors and shapes to also represent them, if he is an actual practitioner then he should be familiar with “tattwas”. If not, the prison should give him some computer time so he can google it. Again, things readily made with materials he already has access to – color paper or cloth and some scissors. Done and done.

    The bottom line is he’s not being prevented from practicing his religion and he already has access to materials that will facilitate its practice. Is he limited from the full range of options available to a free man? Yes. Duh, that holds true for every other aspect of his life – he IS in jail serving time for crimes committed, after all. He’s allowed to watch movies in the Rec area but can’t go to the theater too, is he petitioning for a furlough? If he doesn’t like that he’s restricted from doing things as freely as civilians, then he has absolutely no one to blame but himself. Maybe he should focus more on meditation and personal reflection and less time blaming others for his limitations while seeking a lot of non-essential objects.

    • http://www.facebook.com/maggie.deuchars Maggie Deuchars

      agree, agree, agree, as a practicing pagan of 44 years I totally agree with Kalysto if you can’t do the time don’t do the crime and that includes the freedom to practice your religion in the way you would as a free man …

    • http://www.facebook.com/edward.j.belanger Edward J. Belanger

      If a TOTAL Quadriplegic can be Wicca in the total sense of the word without having ANY of the “tools” of the craft, not even a private place to hold his/her worship, then a prisoner can as well. All he needs for “tools” is himself and his OWN ability to visualize what ever he wishes to have. His claims for the NEED of anything are bogus. A TRUE Wicca ONLY needs him/her self and nothing more. Everything MORE than that is simply added props that either enable one to focus OR serve as OUTWARD symbols to everyone else what it is that you are doing. This fact is WHY Witchcraft was ABLE to survive through the centuries of the Burning Times. We DIDN’T need anything other than ourselves so we were NOT bogged down with paraphernalia that could be used to identify us to our tormentors.

  • http://twitter.com/Xyxox Xyxox

    Having been a volunteer member of the clergy for the Wiccan faith at a prison before, this guy has no case.

  • http://twitter.com/themediawitch Peg Aloi

    The photo you use to illustrate this article is a bit sensationalist; the inverted pentagram is most often associated with Satanism (much more obscurely and rarely with Wicca), so for most lay readers this image will be misleading.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lynn.barry Lynn Barry

      I was just about to mention the inverted pentagram, Peg. Glad someone caught that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tygerseye1 Bill Millhouse

    I agree. The props are nice to have,
    but the main force that drives magick is the will of the Witch.

  • jujubee2000

    you should really change this picture,it does not represent Wicca,but the occult.It is misleading and sensationalist.

    • jujubee2000

      oh and to his requests? Many Wiccans and pagans practice their religion symbolically when they can’t get supplies.So can he.

  • WitchyWoman1311

    I’ve been Wiccan for 30 years, this guy is just being difficult. As for “cakes” , I have made some fancy ones in the past for a particular ritual that I was having guests for. But I usually use whatever is lying around the house, I have used bread, I have used pop tarts, you name it. The only oil I currently even own is patchouli. It doesn’t take a lot of fancy stuff. It’s what is in your heart and your intentions that count.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patti.wigington Patti Wigington

    I can honestly say that in twenty five years as a practicing Pagan, I’ve never referred to carrot cake as “Wolf Ice.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1342175508 Michelle Hesse

    First off, who ever picked the picture needs to do some research…that is NOT the symbol for Wiccans
    And the things this guy asks for is not really ‘essential’….

  • http://www.facebook.com/siskatcreations Kathy Mclean

    Personally he murder someone they may think he can use the items to cause more harm then good. What happen to the Redee “do as you will and harm none” I think he should continue his belief but I think a High Priest or Priestess should lead the group that isnt apart of the system(in Jail) and I think they should let them out to practice and worship the goddess. but as far as some of the items he has requested I think they think he may use them to harm someone after all everyone is forgetting that HE KILLED A MOTHER AND HER CHILDREN. some right have to be removed come on he is lucky to be still alive while those poor children never got to grow up.

  • Michael Dolan

    The only thing ESSENTIAL to a Wiccan practice is the self. That said, most practitioners place a high value on ceremonial objects, tools, and consumables, and a strong argument can be made that they are needed for a standard practice.

    As far as what I would say he “needs”, or better stated “should have available to him”, consist of:
    -A simple robe or other ritual clothing
    -a private journal
    -An offering plate or dish of some kind
    -The 4 elemental tools representing Earth, Air, Water, and Fire (normally a pentacle, knife, chalice, and wand- but for safety’s sake, a feather can replace the knife, and a cup of any kind can serve as a chalice.)

    -”Cakes and Ale” for the Wiccan analogue to communion. While traditionally, they are sweet wine and sweet breads, any beverage (even water), and any form of bread (crackers) will suffice.

    Candles, incense, and various herbs or oils are also very standard equipment, but a person should be able to make due without, or with substitutions such as those battery-powered tea lights and common kitchen spices.

    A major issue lies with providing a “holy book”- It is said that while Christians are “people of The Book”, Pagans (such as Wiccans) are people of the library. There is no one single book for Wiccan worship, but hundreds of diverse references, and yes, tarot cards are a major one.

  • http://twitter.com/Wolfsbau Onyx_Wolf

    There’s nothing remotely Wiccan about this monster. The items he wants are just for show, any real Wiccan can practice their faith without them. He’s just using it as an excuse to throw another 100k$ hissy fit. I hope the courts don’t let him get away with this crap.
    And why wasn’t he executed? Isn’t the murder of 3 people, plus the unborn baby and rape enough? He shouldn’t even be alive, let alone costing the state hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep him quiet.

  • sara

    ummm…you dont “need” all those things to be able to practice lol. Sure they are nice but, not necessary. Plus, i dont think you deserve special treatment if you killed innocent people. its just not right. And can someone PLEASE remove that stereotypical picture from this post? lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=590229528 Shawnee Luke

    First, I agree with others. That picture is offensive.

    Secondly, Mr. LaPlante is an evil man who is mocking our religion at taxpayer expense. But he shouldn’t be too eager to meet our Goddess. It doesn’t matter how many rituals he’s done in prison with his 30 oils and his ‘wolf ice’ (the hell)? In Wicca, you can’t pray what you’ve done away and she’s going to want to chat about what he did to that woman and her children.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=703395261 Logan England

    He needs those items for Wiccan worship just like a christian needs a full mass with the eucharist just to pray. Everywhere we are is a temple…

  • http://www.facebook.com/stuart.cooper.7796 Stuart Cooper

    Twat!!

  • VoiceOfReason71

    Author: If you want to have any credibility, please put an authentic Wiccan picture up with your story. That photo does not represent Wicca. The pentagram is inverted, it is not within a circle, and the book appears to be the Key of Solomon. To give you some perspective, it would be like showing an inverted cross, above a copy of The Omen in order to illustrate a story on Christianity.

  • http://twitter.com/kendallsavage kendall savage

    Please do a little tiny bit of research with your images. This photo is misleading.Satanism is often misrepresented as well, but thats another story!

  • colleen liebel

    This is a fine example for the death penalty.

  • Cameron

    The Goddess doesn’t care what you wear, and understands symbolism. While high rituals are more satisfying to many, they’re not a dire necessity. All high rituals can be simplified immensely, making his case moot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Ammisam Barbara Ann Morehouse

    If this “human” is actually a practicing Wiccan, he never would have committed the crimes he was convicted of in the first place. If he wants attention, he’s got it, but not exactly what he wanted. The Pagan communities will rise and say “NO”. You are mocking us, using our path to fuel your own agendas, and we will not tolerate it. Just look at what we did to Fox News. If you are looking for redemption, well that’s between you and the Gods, but I don’t think you’re much in their favor right now. Your time should be spent reflecting on your own life, seeing where you went wrong, fixing yourself, and then helping others do the same. Your time should not be spent leading a group of criminals in some sham of a ceremony so you can suck the system dry of its resources.

    AND SOMEBODY GET THAT DAMNED PICTURE OFF OF HERE!! Just once I wish a journalist would get it right!!

  • quinsha

    The only thing needed for ritual is yourself. If you want to be nice he could have an LED candle with two batteries. And get that upside down pentagram down, That is as insulting to wiccans as an upside down cross is to christians.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gabrielle.cote.37 Gabrielle Cote

    I must agree. This guy would be super dissapointed if he saw what most Pagans do. Plus, the article’s picture… can someone please remove the inverted pentagram and put a wiccan pentacle? It’s not even relevant! Agreed, some people like a fancy cake and such, but this guy’s taking it over the top… and why would he need Thor’s Hammer if he were Wiccan? Wiccans worship a God and a Goddess, he’s not Asatru Pagan. This guy is putting up a bad image. If you can practice your faith with the simplest of things or nothing at all, and believe in your soul everyday, that’s when I think you should be called a Pagan in every sense of the word.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ShadowDarkFyre Micah DarkFyre

    Speaking as a Christian Mystick, it’s good to see the magickal community out on this article and setting the record straight.

    For one, Mr. Annear, I’m sure you’ve read the consensus here. Change that picture. Rarely if ever do you hear of a Wiccan – and I have plenty in my family – using an upside down star and the Key of Solomon in their work. It’s not representative here. A more accurate symbol is the pentacle: five points of the star (right side up, mind) representing the five elements, surrounded by a circle representing the will. Get it changed and do your homework better. Either you were wanting to be sensationalist, or you were just being lazy in your choosing. Either way, it is misrepresentative.

    Secondly, and primarily, this man murdered a woman, her unborn child, and her two living children. Bluntly speaking, to hell with his rights. He forsook those when he took his victims lives away, and therefore their rights. That is the trade-off. And on top of that, he’s making the Wiccan worship of the Divine into a farce. That he is alive is more than he deserves.

    Thirdly, he doesn’t need most or any of those things he’s clamoring for. And what the bletherin’ hell is wolf ice? As I’ve been told and have learned from those in my family, like any spiritual practice, it is the spirit of the practice that is important. This boy is at best a moron. At worst, someone that needs to be put down. That a rapist and child killer isnae’ dead in prison already is something he should already count as a mercy. Most in prison would see such a man dead.

    He should quit while he’s ahead and shut up, before the Divine takes closer notice of him than He/She/It already does. I doubt it’ll be all sunshine and roses, either.

    ‘Course, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong….

  • http://www.facebook.com/Cerrydwyn Trina Zirschky

    Before I even read the article I was a little upset about the inverted pentagram being used as it is more often associated with Satanism and not Wicca. Wish they would not have used it!

  • Kalysto

    I noticed some people have taken offense to the photo. I just want to point out that they are correct that it is the upright pentagram with the single point positioned upward that is used to represent Wicca. However, it’s not true that the the inverted pentagram is never used in Wicca. It’s used in some traditions to denote second degree initiates and there is no evil or negative connotation when used in that context. However that use is a specific situation and not universal to all Wiccan practices. Given the more prevalent association with Satanism, another picture would be more appropriate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jesse.flanagan.9 Jesse Flanagan

    Kalysto is spot on! He already has access to everything he truly NEEDS to practice Wicca. Even the salt and water for consecration of the sacred space is not absolutely necessary, although it is customary and recommended. All that is truly necessary is time, a reasonable degree of silence, the will, the knowledge of ritual forms, and enough sanity and maturity to discern truth.

  • Matthew Pomeroy

    I would hope the court hears from members of this religious community, maybe even a Wiccan chaplain( though I would hazard a guess there are many forms) for input instead of simply granting his requests. The general consensus seems to be he is simply misrepresenting his faith for unjustified privilege.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edmund-ONeill/100001669644261 Edmund O’Neill

    When I was in Jail they let me keep my pentagram pendant. As far as ritual. It’s all in the mind. I did however scratch a pentagram in the center of the cell with my plastic spork. and to my surprise a flying insect landed right in the middle. We became best friends. So even in solitaire confinement, we can be what ever we believe we are and follow any belief system we choose. It’s just that the accoutrements and decor are not up to the outside world, however after all, Jail is Jail.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joaniedark Elissa N. M. Cheramie

    If he asked for a “Hammer of Thor” he doesn’t deserve one. He should know how to say Mjolnir.

  • Thelma Garcia

    Thank you for changing the photo Steve.

  • Dualkarnain

    There go the wiccans throwing Satanists under the bus, again.

  • 御伽 藍子

    i wasnt allowed my mjölnir when i was jailed
    their excuse was ‘it is too thick for us to rip off’
    why the hell would you ever deprive someone of a comforting symbol like a mjölnir in a horrible time? especially if they made the mistake of getting jailed.
    fucks sake.