When infamous cult leader Charles Manson died in November 2017, he left not only a terrible legacy of murder and mayhem but an unnerving prophecy. Shortly before his death, the 83-year-old claimed he would return and that, “The dead but never die”. The unhinged words uttered in his final phone call offer a chilling glimpse into the unrepentantly warped mind of a psychopath. And they seem to suggest that he knew his time on Earth was almost up.
As a pseudo-spiritual demagogue, Manson drew heavily on the cult teachings of Scientology and its off-shoot, The Process Church of the Final Judgment. Satan, Manson believed, would become reunited with Christ during the apocalypse to judge humankind. Meanwhile, in his eyes, the U.S. establishment was the modern-day embodiment of Ancient Rome. What’s more, he claimed that his followers were the original Christians re-born and that he himself was Christ.
Ultimately, of course, Manson proved to be more of an Anti-Christ than a messiah, and the apocalypse he longed for never came. However, he did have a lasting – if utterly poisonous – impact on popular culture in the late 1960s. Nine savage murders, all of them committed by his followers, left the U.S. in a state of shock. The hippy dream of peace and love, it seemed, was well and truly shattered.