And it’s not that big a deal.
Here’s the story:
Years ago, before I started grad school and around the time I finished my bachelor’s degree, I knew a guy. He was a non-trad at MSU, VietNam war vet, one of those shady drifters who liked college girls, especially those of us who were misfits before the punk genre revived and gave our watered-down follow-ups a name. ((This is not to say all punks were watered down. But enough of them at Mankato were.)) He was also one of those vegetarian Buddhists so obnoxious that my ex once wanted to throw chicken bones at him when we were eating together at a bar. But I digress.
Shady guy naturally had a shady living situation. I knew nothing about this. Shady guy also knew I practiced Wicca, and stated he found my take on it more respectable than what he found among other college girls. This was during the rise of the fluff bunny Wicca population, before metaphorical cats descended upon us in the form of Real Life and the Bush administration. Shady guy was quite fond of seeing me, and announcing loudly “It’s my favorite witch!”
Sometime while I knew him he ended up in a federal case for mail fraud. It took some asking around (he was not so forthcoming) but apparently shady person he was living with was a Universal Life Church minister who was one of those selling “spells” in the back of the National Enquirer. Charging for magic is a hoodoo practice, and I didn’t know much of anything about it at the time. I know more now, and from what little I could gather, whatever this person’s situation was, it was not that. I was frequently approached for spells, myself, but no one paid me, I usually said no, and the stuff I did take on was of the de-haunting variety for people who were already having mental health issues without the added pressure of a ghost. ((Ghosts are the physical embodiment of a mental health issue in some ways. All their own, not of the person seeing them.)) Apparently some people were unable to pay for spells, or something happened, and this woman he lived with was accused of threatening to curse people if they didn’t pay more money. How this guy was involved I am still not clear on. Was he the heavy? A curse caster? I honestly don’t know. To this day, I never had a clear idea of what happened well enough to have an opinion of who was innocent or guilty.
In the course of the investigation, it was apparently logical for the FBI to track anyone involved with magic. Since I lived beyond the outskirts of town in a dirt road above a washed out dirt road, it was impossible for them to be subtle. It became so obvious from my crackling phone conversations that I was being tapped that it became a point of amusement. Of course I was upset at first, called the police (I was young and not thinking it through) and no, it never occurred to me to look it up online. As it was, it would get really obvious when I was talking to one friend or another about witchcraft, how it worked, etc.
The white van that obviously didn’t belong to any property in the area that parked in front of our mailboxes also made it obvious.
It got to the point where the van would park in front of the mail box, close enough I couldn’t access it. One day, I picked up the phone when the van was parked that way and said, “Hey guys, could you move the van? You’re blocking my mailbox.”
The van almost immediately moved.
I’m pretty sure that’s when they ended the phone tap. You’re supposed to get a letter when they tap you. Maybe that’s why they kept parking in front of my mailbox.
If nothing else, someone at the FBI got an education about Wicca and neopaganism. Poor, bored, pre-9/11 feds.
As for the shady guy? He went to prison, and died a few years later while on work release.