Unspeakable Times
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Rules Followers Had To Stick With To Stay In The Manson Family

Updated August 14, 2020 87.9k views10 items

Charles Manson is known as one of the most notorious murderers in American history, and yet he did not personally kill anyone - that was the task of the Manson Family members. Manson, a master manipulator, influenced a substantial group of followers to do his bidding in the late 1960s. Mason's followers would do anything for their leader, including breaking and entering into Los Angeles homes and committing atrocious, violent murders.

In order to become one of Manson's select acolytes, members had to follow the Manson Family rules. The rules, which range from giving up books entirely to mandatory sex with other Family members, were assumed to be a test on Manson's part to see how far his followers would go to prove their loyalty to him. Those who were able to pass the test of rigorous rules were given the "privilege" of murdering actress Sharon Tate and four others on August 9, 1969. 

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  • Family Members Participated In Menial Labor And Sexual Favors In Exchange For Necessities

    Family Members Participated In Menial Labor And Sexual Favors In Exchange For Necessities
    Video: YouTube

    Manson Family members had to chip in equally with menial tasks everywhere they went. At the derelict Spahn Movie Ranch just outside of Chatsworth, CA, Bugliosi describes the group as "cut off from the rest of society, he (Mason) created in this timeless land a tight little society of his own, with its own value system. It was holistic, complete, and totally at odds with the world outside."

    By the time Family happened upon the place in 1969, Spahn was still run by its lonely, blind, 80-year-old owner, George. Manson made a deal with the old man. The group - in particular, the girls - would take care of things around the ranch and supply the old man with "favors." Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme (who later attempted to assassinate President Gerald R. Ford in 1975), was selected by Manson to be both George's "eyes" and main squeeze. 

  • Family Members Had To Act As Untrained Birthing Assistants

    Childbirth was as much a group affair as everything else in the Family. All females were encouraged to have kids, and when the time had come for one of the group to give birth, everyone was involved, including Manson. 

    Family members never saw a doctor or the inside of a hospital while with Manson; contact with any form of the outside world was nonexistent and forbidden. When a pregnant Family member went into labor, it was all hands on deck. Manson's role was, at least in the case of Family member Mary Brunner, to cut the umbilical cord with his teeth (or a guitar string in the case of Susan Atkins.)  

  • Manson Demanded The Family Participate In "Creepy Crawls," AKA Home Break-Ins

    Manson Demanded The Family Participate In "Creepy Crawls," AKA Home Break-Ins
    Video: YouTube

    Manson wanted to prepare his Family for Helter Skelter, the impending race war he had predicted. Manson believed The Beatles's eponymous album ninth album, AKA the White Album, confirmed these beliefs as well. Manson listened to the album repeatedly after its release on November 22, 1968, and began sending his Family on "Creepy Crawl" exercises to prepare for the apocalypse.

    Manson sent his crew, armed with knives, to randomly selected homes in Los Angeles late at night. Once inside, they would rearrange furniture and tchotchkes while residents slept. "Creepy crawls" weren't about hauling stolen goods as much as they were about destabilizing any feelings of safety and security. 

  • Women Had To Serve The Men Food And Maintain A Deathly Thin Physique

    They prepared the food, but they weren't allowed to eat it - at least before the guys did, anyway. Food at the ranch was served to the Family men before the women got whatever was left, which wasn't much. They were also terrified of gaining weight, lest Manson find them unattractive. 

    Dianne Lake, just 14 when she joined the family and co-author of the memoir, Member of the Family, said that the girls practiced bulimia to keep their weight down: 

    "We all made a pact that we would throw up our food instead of being forced by our jailers to gain weight. Nancy made it a regular habit and showed us all how to stick our fingers down our throats to rid ourselves of food. After a while, it became like a rush and a way to control the situation. I knew I would continue the habit even after I was released." 

    After Lake met an anorexic person while in a psychiatric hospital, she felt guilty about what she was doing and started eating normally again.