Today would have been the 106th anniversary of the birth of Dr Frederick LaMotte Santee, also know as Lord Merlin in the Coven of the Catta. I have posted these photos before, but here they are again in his honor. They are all photos I took or photocopied, except for the The Devil’s Wager sell sheet courtesy of a C.Bilardi. I just missed meeting him, my arrival at the covenstead happening a year after his passing.
Here is an except of the booklet I wrote on him called A History of Dr Frederick LaMotte Santee and the Coven of the Catta which is available at Lulu.com. The second booklet on the coven contains this first booklet also.
At his point I will write all I know about Dr. Santee, which is from Phoebe’s stories, some articles I found in the Santee Memorial Library and from the Harvard Yearbooks. I never met him, having arrived one year after his passing, but he was an amazing man, doctor, scholar and occultist.
He was born 17 September 1906 in Wapwallopen, Pa. He was born in a lineage of four generations of doctor’s who practiced medicine. His grandfather was a Civil War surgeon who helped runaway slaves. His father was Charles LaMotte Santee who held MD degrees from LaFayette and Jefferson colleges in 1901 and he passed away in 1963. His mother was Verna Caroline Lloyd Santee.
Santee showed signs of genius at an early age. By age 3 he would read both English and German. He learned Latin from his grandfather’s grammar books. By age 8 he was translating Caesar’s Gallic Wars from Latin into English and back again to check his grammar. He went to Wapwallopen High School and then on to Wilkes-Barre High School for his last year. He went to Central High School in Philadelphia for AB degree in Greek and had the highest score in the USA, and so went to Harvard.
At age 14 he was the youngest person to attend Harvard from 1924-26 where he graduated at age 16 with an AB Magna Cum Laude.
At Harvard he met EK Rand, the Latin scholar with whom he corresponded for years. When asked “Who interested you in the occult?”, he cites Harvard teacher Professor Grandient who taught Medieval literature and old French, George L. Kitridge who taught English and TM Boura.
He went to the University of Oxford England where he graduated age 18 in 1928 with an AB and then his MA in 1929. While at Oxford he jointed The Alpha et Omega Lodge of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn where he met Aleister Crowley, HP Blavatsky, WB Yeats, Thomas Agee, Dion Fortune, AE Waite, and Israel Regarde. He also jointed Theosophical Society of England. At Oxford his main occult influence was from his philosophy teacher, a Professor Brabbart.
One source says he attended the University of Berlin in 1924-28 where he received his Ph.D. but this date does not seem to match the other records. He spent additional years in Rome, teaching positions at Harvard, Temple, Kenyon. Johns Hopkins, but held no tenure due to his socialist ideas. He was one of the 100 members of the Institute of Arts and Letters.
While at the University of Berlin he was initiated into witchcraft at a Coven 30 miles outside Berlin, the coven High Priest being an Arnold Reinman(d). In travels in the Middle East he met native adepts of the High Art in Egypt, learned from a German adept also in Egypt, and from a Sheik who was High Priest of a “coven” in North Africa. Santee claims to have been a Homeopathic Doctor to Adolf Hitler but escaped Germany before the War. Santee also claims to have adopted into the USA the daughter of Hitler, named Tao, whom Hitler fathered to an English lady before the War.
In 1928 he married Edith Rundle from Allentown, Pa. In 1930 they either birthed or adopted a daughter names Ruth who died in 1938.
In 1930 he was a Sheldon Fellow and Fellow at the American Academy of Rome for 3 years. By then he could read Latin, Greek, German and some Sanskrit.
In the later 1930s he spent 6 years teaching in the USA at Lehigh, Vanderbilt, Harvard, Temple, and Kenyon colleges. As noted before he never achieved tenure at any of these institutions. During this time he jointed the America Roscicrucian Society and was initiated into the Illuminati degree.
In 1938 he graduated from John’s Hopkins University in Baltimore Maryland with his MD degree.
From 1938-1942? he taught classical languages at Kenyon College in Ohio USA and was involved in the Humanistic Revival (see issues of the Kenyon Review). He opposed the US entrance into WWII since he was an avowed Socialist.
Also in 1942 he divorced Edith Rundle and married Betty Addis of Cumberland, Md. They adopted Tao. Betty died in 1966.
From 1943-45 he was drafted into the Navy, served in the South Pacific, but saw no action. Later stationed in Arkansas USA he was a Lieutenant in the Medical Corps. Also at that time he published “Sawdust and Tomatoes” (poems of his and his mothers).
The Harvard Yearbook of 1957 lists him as living in Baltimore practicing medicine there. From letters it appears he knew John Colhane the Irish writer, David McDowell at Kenyon and Random House, Father Flye from NYC, Clyde Pharr, and other famous classicists.
In 1956 Santee met Edna Jane Kishbaugh Williams aka Lady Phoebe Athene Nimue.
In 1963 on his father’s death, he returns to Wapwallopen Pennsylvania to continue his medical practice. His home and office were the same at 5 River Street.
In the 1970s once the library was built next door he employed a total of 2 nurses and 4 secretaries and librarians. He wrote a newspaper column called: “The Country Doctor” and Janee wrote a column called: “The Witches’ Kettle”. The locals says he was a kind and compassionate doctor, though a bit of an eccentric. He often treated the poor at no charge.
Santee was known to have rubbed shoulders with much of the northeastern occult community. He was also a scholar of the Faust novels and legend and wrote his own Faustian story entitled “The Devil’s Wager” set in modern times. He had a leg and nylon fetish if I can say so based on the amount of slides of ladies legs he had. He required his nurses and librarians to wear skirts, nylons and high heels at all times. He loves cats and all animals and supported the Humane Society and money from his will was donated to them. He was a regular to NYC and was known to frequent the Magickal Childe bookstore. He had met Sybil Leek at some time and invited her to his Covenstead. His ladies, foremost of which Phoebe, encouraged him to get initiated by her and start a Coven. In 1967 that happened and they received their charter from her. They titled the Coven of the Catta after the cat totem as I have written before and that coven continues to this day with a short hiatus of rituals from 1979, the year of the bookhouse fire through 1980 the year of his death. I wish I had arrived a few years earlier than I did to meet this intelligent, wonderful and weird man and magickian.
Dr Frederick LaMotte Santee died on 11 April 1980 aged 72 after a long battle with liver failure. His body is buried at the Old River Church just north of Wapwallopen, Pa. His gravestone says “I shall return when Spring’s shadow trails.”
Here is a poem written about him:
How pleasant to know the good Doctor
Who writes all this horrible stuff; (1)
Some call him a scoundrel and rotter,
But a few think him pleasant enough.
His mind is abstract and fastidious,
His nose is remarkable big;
Were he only a little less hideous,
You would say he resembles a pig.
When he changes from far specs to near specs
The children are frightened and cry,
And their mothers shout, ‘Hey! Don’t you dare hex (2)
Poor Sam with your terrible eye!’
He has many friends, layman and clerical,
He sleeps every night with his cats,
His body is perfectly spherical,
His office girls never where flats. (3)
His office is unsanitary
With pictures of girls on the wall,
Every week he drinks gallons of sherry,
But never gets tipsy at all.
He is silent with people who talk a lot,
He won’t look at women in slacks,
His favorite flavor is chocolate,
He rails at inflation and tax.
He hides in the depths of the cellar
While his patients call down through the flue,
‘Come out of that cellar, you yeller,
You yeller old lazy bones, you!’
He reads, but he cannot speak, Spanish,
He still prefers women to men;
Ere the days of your pilgrimage vanish,
He hopes you will see him again.
(1) Refers mainly to a newspaper column
called the ‘Country Doctor.’
(2) Actually he belongs to a coven of witches.
(3) A famous psychologist sees a relation
between his fetish for high heels
and his love of cats.”