When she couldn't get a person to do what she wanted, she'd try to physically seduce the person, play up their ego, or use their more pliable friends to use peer pressure to get them to step in line. When individuals became too contrary, they were ejected from the group and declared demonically possessed and critically dangerous to speak with. People who spoke with the demonically possessed, often became such themselves.
Often she would fall down in pantomime epileptic seizures and recieve visions (hence her position as Prophetess). The group waited on her interpretations of these visions, and utilized them to arrange relationships between people, sever the same, encourage or discourage relations with members of a persons family, even determine whether people were to abandon their jobs and careers. Most frequently, these prophecies dictated various "quests"; little weekly or bi-weekly treasure hunts or rituals which were necessary to save the world (keep 'em busy). Most critically, these visions were used to determine whether a person was aligned with the forces of evil, and thus untrustworthy.
Witnessing this silly put-on occur in front of my house once (while she and Circe were visiting) I gave her a kick to the belly. She recoiled and yelped. I know what real seizures look like; my uncle died of a brain tumor. I don't think they're funny.
She lied habitually, even on trivial issues. It went so far that within a single month, she'd told me on seperate occasions she was born and raised in Germany, off the coast of Britain, and New York. Perhaps this explains her mystifying powers; Jesus was only supposed to have been born from a virgin. Madison refuses to be outdone, I guess.
She concocted an impressive past whose facts changed from week to week. Her bogus "I was born and raised on an obscure island off the coast of Britain" shtick was used to support her silly Druidic fam trad claim.
Her bogus "I was born and raised on an army base in Berlin" shtick was used for some other silly claim. Noticing something fishy at this point, I asked her to say something- anything- in German. Not admitting she couldn't speak the simplest phrase, she tried to dodge the issue and changed the topic of conversation to that of a personal attack. (Sound familiar?) After that was quieted down somewhat, I asked her what the the tite of a KMFDM song, "Leibslied", meant. She mumbled nervously and told me she'd have to think about it, her memory was bad. Two weeks later she proudly gave me the proper translation, presumably from a German-English dictionary.
While we are on the history of forged background, some time after I parted ways with The Company someone informed me that Madison wasn't her birth name at all, and told me a little story about how this came about. Rebecca Kramer, during her highschool years, developed a major crush on a girl in her class named Madison who seemed to get all of the attention, leaving her meek and unexciting in the shadows. Rebecca began to insist upon being called Mad or Madison, and sought to emulate her idol, in the hopes of stealing some of the limelight.
However that particular story was resolved, I don't know. Hopefully, the real Madison gave her some really harsh words, if not a well-applied boot to the derriere.
It seems really disturbed to me that she was still going exclusively as Mad a couple years ago (she's probably 27 now). I, and several ex-Company members see this little anecdote as probably the seed of the pattern which has developed over the years.
This indicates she's mentally unbalanced and prone to fabricating outrageous stories about herself to conceal her inadequacies and insecurities. Nevertheless, as it's still going on, why on earth would anyone want to go to her for personal advice?
Now, personal advice is one thing, but spiritual guidence is another. Most friends I know are qualified to give me normal advice which is only mildly biased and basically sincere. Very few I trust as spiritual authorities; because my standards for such are extremely high, and I've seen what happens when faith is given to sly opportunists.
Rather than hastening people towards illumination which can take many decades of concentrated work, she busies people with trivia and theatrics, and feeds them nonsense it takes years to unlearn. Some former Madison affiliates who still do magic at all (many renounce it, out of sheer disappointment) tend to gravitate towards the dramatic and fraudulent. Their intuition has become malformed, and they gravitate towards bunk-- real magic is subtle and often tedious work. Even though they know better, they don't really want to believe it.
Madison recognized that attraction to magic is often rooted in a love of drama and attention, and rather than helping people transcend this, she encouraged it's growth so she could use it as a handle with which to control them. Today, they've learned that Madison is a tyrant, but not how to be free of tyranny in the long run. I consider this serious and intentional damage, no different than what happens to veal calves in factory farms- but instead of the physical, this is mental and spiritual damage to human beings.
Contrary to the assertions of some friends, I do not believe these people would have just found another bogus guru. An analogy; I have a friend who has a history of alcoholism in her family. She's also got the personality for it. She's smart, and won't drink more than occasionally, and then only a little beer. However, if she had a lover who pressured her to drink gin with him, or left her in an emotional no-win situation and made hard liquor present in times of distress- you'd see her develop a pattern which it'd be pure hell to get out of in the long run.
What I'm saying, is it's possible to see a person's undeveloped defect, fertilize it until it becomes an overwhelming need which defines that person's life and personality, and then use that need as a weapon against them. Madison did exactly this, and I'll never ever forgive her for it. If circumstances were slightly different, it would have happened to me.
I'm older, I'm stronger, I decide what to believe for myself- but I wasn't always like this. People who otherwise might be strong pillars of our communities are wrecked in their formative years by parasites like her. And it ain't survival of the fittest, because she often successfully mangles those who otherwise would never have been "losers". I think that "we ask for all the damage we get" stuff does not apply here at all. Infants don't attract pedophiles to them because of some inner flaw, but the damage which is done to them can be perpetuated down generations. This is how I see this situation, and why I consider it troubling that she now has an recruiting ground as vast as alt.pagan.
During my time affiliated with Madison, I never saw her say anything indicating she had any knowledge of magic beyond the fact that she read fantasy fiction and slept with magicians and witches. Like the German language test, I asked her a basic question or two while in a cab with her, and again she dodged. I was somewhat disgusted, but I still considered her a harmless flake. She, however, apparently considered my attitude snobbery-- as she did towards anyone who had standards which excluded her justifiably.
A quick review of Usenet archives will show that she dismissed the concept of banishment's role in magic. Nearly every tradition has some form of ritual banishment as a preperation for ritual work. This can be chalked up as loud ignorance, not an impressive discovery on her part.
A similar review will display Daniel Pellizzari's comments on her misuse of Pomba Gira as a lightside goddess/orisha/etc, and her bogus dismissals of the Christian element in the African-Syncretic traditions. This in spite of the fact that I included some supportive quotes from one of the very few books on Pomba Gira in English. In fact, the other book I know of, is by the same author and also supports the pronounced demonic attributes of Pomba Gira. I do not care whether she wanted to summon a (real) demonic spirit in the midst of a gathering of novices, or it was a slip up. As she's not a real intitiate in any of the Brazilian traditions, the appearance of Pomba Gira should it have occured would have been singularly destructive to nearby innocents.
Skyler tells me that sometime after I left The Company, Madison first came into contact with voodoo-- specifically the so-called New Orleans Tarot deck. One of my friends, a Santera, informs me that the usage of card divination in the African-Syncretic traditions is usually with ordinary playing cards. Her opinion of the New Orleans tarot is mighty poor.
This proves a number of important facts about Madison and voodoo:
From this, I consider her practice not only invalid, but actively defamatory against authentic voodoo and an act of contempt towards the lineages and initiations of true practitioners.
Why spend years studying real voodoo when you can study something even better- NYC Vodou! First teflon, and now this! All the attention, in less than a fraction of the time. All you need is a loud mouth and a big ego, and instantly you'll be as qualified as the great and powerful Madison. Just add sauce. Better than a chia pet, only $19.95.
But that's not all- for a limited time, you'll also get a authentic Druid and Candomble initiations (not to mention Atlantean and High Priestess of Atho) for free. And if you order right now, you'll get a poppet and a set of pins. Just call the Pomba Gira Botanica hotline, right now!
Don't forget the special 33rd degree Freemason initiation at our special low price of $4.25.
The Company was preoccupied with the coming End Times, and the cyberpunk-meets-Camelot world to come after. Everyone wants a happy ending, something to make all the stress and ostracism, all the heartbreak worthwhile. However, there are some limits to the tendancy of most people to believe that just because something ought to be true, they are or will be true. Madison had a nice little technique to fix that, much to her advantage.
Being in position of Prophetess, she dictated that the only way to survive in the coming tribulation, one would have to properly seek and interpret many prophecies and visions. Without a guide to the future, there would be little chance for victory, much less survival. Thus, visions in general became the priority of the group- to guide them, and to act as tempting previews of what they would be fighting for. I don't know if she dropped the suggestion herself or merely supported it, but the usage of psychedelics turned from occasional to nearly perpetual.
Every time I dropped by the apartment, the little cabal was tripping. No longer sure of reality, no longer caring, the place began to smell like a zoo. Reality was then totally subjective, and so, any lingering skepticism was eradicated. The blur and effective laziness caused lives to fester. People looking for jobs took an indefinite hiatus. People going to school slackened off and put off college. When they realized their lives were slipping away, they took another dose and escaped from the harsh truth. And Madison was always there to reassure.
Madison was always there to tell them that what they were doing was heroic, necessary, and destined. After all, what they were escaping from wasn't true reality after all, and it would be destroyed anyway in the coming apocalypse-- not worthy of their attention. Only the prophecies and the Prophetess mattered.
My conflicts with Madison during my participation in her past group were minimal. She knew I thought she was skeevy and a fraud, so we avoided each other. It was difficult because I spent a lot of time with Circe and Megan, being lovers of hers at various times. If I invited Circe and Megan to dinner, Madison came along. If we went clubbing, she usually came along. If John or one of the Company folk from abroad came into town, Madison was sure to be there. On more than one occasion when I dropped by the apartment, I watched television in the living room with the sound turned up, while Circe and Madison finished a trysting session behind the wood partition and threw on some clothes. I met Madison four times? Get real.
After my parting of ways with The Company, one of my goodwill gestures came back to bite me (and a good friend) on the fanny. In the early days before I'd had a proper chance to assess Madison, I brought her and Circe to a reading at a meeting of the NYU Scifi Club, of which I was a member. There she met the current president, Annie Hunkele (whom Madison loudly flirted with, much to everyone's amusement), and the person who'd succeed Annie, Robert Toth. My original intent was to get Madison some contact with fellow scifi writers, since she appeared to be festering in that apartment along with the rest of her friends. Even then I'd considered her highly creative. After this reading, she pretty much faded out of that circle of friends, which actually disappointed me at the time.
A few years later, after Rob Toth and many of the club members had been graduated, Madison met up with him and got involved. Rob was, and is, a very decent and humble fellow; a tall funny guy with a mild nervous stutter and a kick-ass William S. Burroughs voice impersonation. A bit of an innocent, despite the WSB interest. Precisely the sort of person who'd be too impressed to look for an ulterior motive when a pretty girl threw herself at him.
The apartment he and three other ex-club members shared was very close to where Madison had been staying with Circe, and so, after things went to hell she moved in with Rob. As fans of Philip K. Dick, they'd dubbed the place the "Dickhouse"; unfortunately, it was poor Rob who got got dicked over. Friends of Rob tell me Madison mooched from him and soaked up his paycheck until he recognized what was happening, and he ended the parasitism by showing her the door. Nevertheless, this was one way I kept tabs on Madison despite my hope to forget about her entirely, after The Company splitup. (BTW, Rob and Madison's husband are not related, despite identical last names.)
Bad penny, I guess.
After the situation at the Dickhouse had ended, I didn't see anything of Madison for quite a while. As positive as this might seem, the negative side was that she'd convinced the people I knew in her group that I was demonically possessed and dangerous to interact with on any level. Even those who parted ways with Madison still believed many of the lunacies she'd instilled in them. I hoped that there might be some way I could make peace with her so that I would be permitted to speak with my friends.
Unfortunately, (and does it surprise you?), I also wanted to wring her neck a bit for what she'd done and was presumably still doing. She'd turned my friends against me for merely trying to help them get on their feet.
It was a moment of sheer sitcom that when Madison saw and approached me from behind, outside the West 4th street subway statiion, I was involved in a less than flattering conversation about her with a friend (Ed Linders). After describing some utterly sadistic bonesnapping tortures, I realized someone was watching me from behind. I whirled round to see Madison standing there trembling, white as a ghost. She departed hastily.
Now, I admit, seeing her wilt like that was mighty satisfying, but it probably delayed reunion with my friends for at least a year.
Circe was convinced she had a pink pseudo-dragon as a familiar (this revealed during the period of peyote/mescaline overdrive). Many people around her then and now believe they are actively followed around by the Men In Black, Illuminati, vampires, werewolves, astral insectoid parasites, and gray aliens. Not to mention the CIA, NSA, and more reputable objects of paranoid fantasies. I consider her renaming of herself "Rodger Matthews Dragonstorm" more neural fallout. Madison is pretty much able to convince her the sky is paisley colored at this point. Circe has been breaking free and getting wrapped up in Mad's chaos in cycles like several folk, but longer than any other I know.