The Sacredest Place

 I am fascinated by the dialogue captured in this video.

The clip is an excerpt from a longer video recorded by New Yorker correspondent Luke Mogelson on January 6, 2021, when Jake Angeli, alias Jacob Chansley, alias the Q Shaman, entered the Senate Chamber along with other Trump supporters and occupied the Vice President’s desk.* The above segment comes about halfway through the YouTube video (timestamp 6:18). The camera catches Angeli walking through the door, followed by an officer:**

Angeli: Hey! Fuckin’ A, man! Glad to see you guys. You guys are fuckin’ patriots. Look at this guy. He’s got, covered in blood, God bless you. 

Officer [addressing the man seated on the floor in front of the desk]: You good, sir? Do you need medical attention?

Man in red hat: I’m good, thank you. 

Officer: All right. 

Man in red hat [on phone]: I got shot in the face. I got shot in the face with some kind of plastic bullet. 

Officer: Any chance I could get you guys to leave the Senate wing?

Man in red hat: We will. I been makin’ sure they ain’t disrespectin’ the place.

Officer: Okay, I just want to let you guys know, this is like the sacredest place.

Man in red hat: I know.

Did you notice what the officer said and how the man in the red hat responded? “This is like the sacredest place.” “I know.” In the longer version of the video, the man in the red hat can be heard admonishing a much larger group of people milling about the room: “Don’t trash the place. No disrespect,” lending credence to his claim to have been “makin’ sure they ain’t disrespecting’ the place.” In Mogelson’s words, the red-hatted man, alias Mr. Black, succeeded: “After a while, rather than defy him, nearly everybody left the chamber”—leaving the room mostly empty for when Angeli strode in.

Everything about Mr. Angeli, including his name (Latin for Angels), is calculated to capture the attention: his furry hat with add-on horns, his spear-staff American flag, his tattooed torso and arms, his megaphone. Prior to stepping onto the main floor of the chamber, Mr. Angeli had appeared on the viewing balcony, where he gave a yell (and was captured mid-chant by a professional photographer), but when he walked into the chamber proper, he was simply grinning with delight. He wore no COVID mask, but his face was painted red, white, and blue—a trickster’s mask, as befitted his (in Mogelson’s words) impish grin. He should have been incongruous—but, oddly, he wasn’t. 

Some things only pictures can explain.

How loopy is it to see a shaman in the Senate Chamber? Well, how loopy is it to hear an officer of the law describe the Senate Chamber itself as “the sacredest place”—while a man in a red hat, bleeding from a wound to his face and sitting at the base of the central desk, assures him that he had been making sure nobody disrespected the place? What kind of a place is the Senate Chamber? What kind of place is “sacred”?

Here is another view of the setting: it’s a room with desks. The Senate was at work when the self-proclaimed patriots climbed through the windows of the Capitol Building and convinced the officers to open the doors (some, to be sure, with inappropriate physical force); the Senators left papers scattered all over the desks, which by the time this photo was taken had been rifled through (in part) by Mr. Black’s previous companions. Basically, it’s a meeting room—and that makes it “sacred”? Well, what kind of room is it?

For one, it is highly decorated. Brightly colored, unlike most modern meeting rooms. While the outside of the U.S. Capitol Building is pure white—the modernist fantasy of what Greek and Roman temples looked like, when in fact they were brightly colored, too—the interior is striving for palatial, its furnishings and ornaments modeled on the aristocratic palaces of the Old Europe that the United States of America was meant to supersede. 

The pilasters on either side of the Vice-President’s chair are red Levanto marble; the rostrum in front of his desk is marble, too. The desks arranged in semi-circles around the rostrum are mahogany antiques. A blue and gold fringed canopy hangs behind the VP’s chair, while the room itself is all over blue and gold—blue for the carpets and panels on the floor level, damasked yellow walls and blue chairs in the gallery. The room has no windows—practically speaking (according to the Architect of the Capitol) “to insulate senators from outside noise”; in effect to make the room entirely enclosed, with no access to the outside world.

It is, in other words, a giant gold-walled cube. A cube, moreover, to which only certain people are meant to have access. And what kind of people would those be? This, of course, is the great debate currently disturbing our Republic. “We the People” are meant to be sovereign—or so it says in our founding document. But who or what determines the will of the People? Mr. Angeli and his companions consider themselves to be sovereign, not as individuals, but as citizens of the United States, thus their comments upon entering the Senate Chamber: “Let’s vote on some shit.” “We pay for it. This is our House.” 

And yet, even some of their company recoiled at claiming it entirely as their own. As one older man (identified in Mogelson’s article as a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel) chastised one of the younger red hats who had taken a seat in the VP’s chair: “Get out of that chair... It belongs to the Vice-President of the United States... It’s not our chair. I love you guys, you’re brothers, but we can’t be disrespectful.”

Mr. Angeli had other ideas when he walked into the room. Having called for God’s blessing on the bleeding man, he went up to the dais and took a seat in the VP’s chair, saying: “I’m gonna take a seat in this chair, because Mike Pence is a fucking traitor.” He then stood up and took out his phone, commenting: “I’m not one to usually take pictures of myself, but in this case, I think I’ll make an exception.” (In the above photo, you can see Angeli posing for his own camera—during which time Mogelson was still recording. Is that Mogelson in the green cap and black jacket? Who exactly is encouraging whom in this photo op?) 

Once the photos were taken, the officer pleaded with Mr. Angeli: “Now that you’ve done that, can I get you guys to walk out of the room, please?” “Yes, sir,” Mr. Angeli replied, only to turn back, grab a pen, and write alongside a roll-call list of the Senators’ names: “ITS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME / JUSTICE IS COMING!” After which, he replaced the pen in its holder. Immediately, Mogelson went up to the paper and recorded what Angeli had written; Angeli provided the voice-over.

The whole scene is fantastic. Surreal. Loopy. But here’s the loopiest thing: at no time does the shaman seem out of place. It gets weirder. Mogelson’s full-length video cuts at the shot of Mr. Angeli’s message to the Senators. In the next cut, more people have come into the room, and one of them tells the officer: “Over four million people are coming.” There is a group of three men now standing at the VP’s desk, including Mr. Angeli. One of the men shouts, his fist lifted to the ceiling (timestamp 7:58): “Jesus Christ, we invoke your name! Amen!” “Amen!,” the other men in the room reply. “Let’s all say a prayer,” Mr. Angeli suggests. “Let’s all say a prayer in this sacred space.” At which the men—including Mr. Angeli—take off their hats.

His head now naked, Mr. Angeli, the Q Shaman, prays:
Thank you, heavenly Father, for gracing us with this opportunity [takes off fur hat and black knit hat]... Thank you, heavenly Father, for this opportunity to stand up for our God-given unalienable rights. Thank you, heavenly Father, for giving the inspiration needed to these police officers to allow us into this building, to allow us to exercise our rights, to allow us to send a message to all the tyrants, the communists, and the globalists that this is our nation, not theirs, that we will not allow America, the American way of the United States of America to go down. 
Thank you, divine, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent Creator God, for filling this chamber with your white light of love, your white light of harmony. Thank you for filling this chamber with patriots that love you and that love Christ. Thank you, divine, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent Creator God, for blessing each and every one of us here and now. Thank you, divine Creator God, for surrounding us with your divine, omnipresent white light of love and protection, peace and harmony. Thank you for allowing the United States of America to be reborn. Thank you for allowing us to get rid of the communists, the globalists, and the traitors within our government. We love you, and we thank you. In Christ’s holy Name, we pray. 

To which the congregated men respond: “Amen!” 

Not exactly the prayer you expected a bearskin-hatted shaman to intone? 

Mr. Angeli was arrested by the federal government on January 9. The charges against him included “knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.” Nothing in the video Mogelson published shows Mr. Angeli effecting “violent entry” into the Senate Chamber, but neither does the charge (as reported) say anything about his entering into a “sacred space.” 

Is it “disorderly” to sit in a chair, pose for a photograph, and use the Vice-President’s desk pen to write a note? Is it “disorderly” to say a prayer—a prayer, moreover, “in Christ’s holy Name”? Is it “disorderly” to give thanks to our heavenly Father for the opportunity to send a message to what one perceives as our nation’s enemies that Americans are Americans, not globalists, communists, or tyrants? Is it “disorderly” to pray to our Creator God for love, protection, harmony, and peace? 

What, in fact, did Mr. Angeli do that was so wrong?

According to the official charge, Mr. Angeli “knowingly” entered into a “restricted” space “without lawful authority.” But that was not what the officer in the room on the day cautioned him about, nor was it the way he spoke of the space where he and his fellow patriots (by their own description) offered their prayer. For the men in the Senate Chamber on January 6, the space was “sacred.” 

The sacredest space.” 

A space in which one offers prayers to the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent Creator God. A space in which men take their hats off, bow their heads, and give thanks for being Americans. A space filled with the “white light of love” and the “white light of harmony.” A space to enter which “without lawful authority” puts one in peril of imprisonment—or death.

Jonathan Pageau predicted in his December Q&A that the world was being “reenchanted no matter what, for good and bad.” I had seen photos of Q Shaman for weeks before I saw the video, but I wanted to know not just what he looked like, but what he shouted or said—mouth open to the heavens, magic hat upon his head. To hear him blessing the man in the red hat, bleeding there in front of the desk of the second most powerful elected official in our country, and then shout out such a prayer staggered me. 

Angeli knew when he walked through the door into the Senate Chamber that he was entering a sacred space, even as he called out, “Hey! Fuckin’ A!” He knew he was entering a place steeped in powerful magics, spells and enchantments, a place in which dark-suited men and colorfully-suited women craft the words by which our country is controlled. He knew that there were dark spirits hanging on the curtains around the Vice-President’s desk which needed to be dispelled by gesture and word. He knew that it was a room filled with dark energies that would flee at the sound of Our Lord Christ’s holy Name. He knew that the Senate Chamber was “the sacredest place”—because he knew it was filled with danger and dread.

Am I being fanciful? As every anthropologist knows, this is what it means for a place to be “sacred.” The sacred is not safe and cozy. The sacred is not comfortable or homey. The sacred is terrible. The sacred is dangerous. The sacred is the place where God meets man. America has no state temple in which we worship our Creator as King of heaven and earth, so we have built mock temples and called them after the Temple of Jupiter in ancient Rome. The seat of our legislature is the Capitol Building, named after the Capitoline Hill. The Senators who assemble in their meeting room may think that all they do there is write laws, but what they are in fact doing—as Angeli understood—is invoking the powers of Justice to reign over our People.

Our Senators would do well to remember what happened to Uzzah when he reached out to steady the Ark.

*How Mogelson was able to record such a chaotic event is not explained either in the YouTube notes or in his New Yorker article—the camera angles are surprisingly tight as the crowd makes it way into the building and into the Senate meeting room. Does recording people taking photographs of what they hope are incriminating pieces of paper (in this case, Ted Cruz’s notes for the upcoming vote) count as reporting or rioting? Inquiring minds want to know. 

**Again, how was Mogelson so perfectly situated to film this scene? The YouTube notes say he was using his phone camera, but they do not explain how he happened to be there waiting for Angeli to make his entrance when almost everyone else had left or why no one confronted him, at least not in the segments he published. Mogelson seems to have talked to some of the men—the man in the red hat is identified in his New Yorker article as Joshua Black, from Alabama, and Mogelson (by his own reporting) got close enough to Black’s face to “[glimpse] the smooth surface of a yellow plastic projectile embedded deeply within [Black’s blood-smeared cheek].” But Mogelson does not explain how he came to be in the right place at the right time to capture the scene on camera, which is curious, to say the least, as he was at one time only one of five men in the room other than the officer, who, when a “skinny man in dark clothes” told him, “This is so weird—like, you should be stopping us,” counted the people in the room with him: “One, two, three, four, five”—presumably Angeli, Black, Mogelson, the skinny man, and one other.

We are living in perilous times—the best of times and the worst of times, times of great sorrow and joy. On the stories that drive us, see Battery Life. On the way to rewrite the script, see Script Wars.

UPDATE: “My Apologies, Mr. Shaman”—A Reader emails me concerning Mr. Angeli


  1. Yes, the sacred is terrible! Luckily everybody knows to look away from the light, thanks to Indiana Jones ! o;)

    I am afraid that the things I'd like to say can't be said. Not right here, not right now. But that fear I do harbor does spring from men, not the divine. That violence, that harrowing pursuit, that accusing eye come from a too familiar source!

    I do take great hope in the other, the divine, like our true champion Mr. Angeli. He's on to something!

  2. The Capital as our Temple where we invoke Justice (God) perfectly illustrates why Angeli and all Americans have a right to be there.
    This story also brought to mind the inner sanctum of the Temple, the Holy of Holies. Mr. Black, on the floor bleeding, pleading, is reminiscent of Christ at his Passion.
    After Christ cleanses the Temple ( Mr Black bleeding, causes the others to disperse), the pagan nations appear (Angeli), giving glory to the Father in Christ's name.

  3. O who hath causèd this?
    O who can answer at the throne of God?
    The Kings and Nobles of the Land have done it!
    Hear it not, Heaven, thy Ministers have done it! --William Blake

    When a priesthood defies their holy mandate and mock the congregation, thinking them too feebleminded or powerless to do ought, when the priests conspire to rewrite the sacred scriptures more to their liking and they elect the profane to high office, when they adopt a new, strange and to many, obscene, faith that despises the old God and all who follow it...what then happens? Will a trickster's warning to the Kings of the land be heeded? It beggars description to imagine the mighty donning a humble and contrite mien with so gentle a correction.

    No, if there is to be a correction of any note, it will come soaked in blood. The trickster will be remembered after, if at all. If there will be no correction, if the faithful of the old ways are too gentle, comfortable, or misled, then they will watch as their temples are occupied by strange Gods and their prayers are forbidden on pain of death. The misled will not know or care that such has happened often before and they will not be spared for their ignorance. The comfortable will soon find that comfort is by the whim and decree of the new Lords and is not assured. The gentle will not be saved for being inoffensive, they will be beaten and slain as a sacrifice for the new and hungry Gods, until they are no more and are quickly forgotten.

    And who's to say that the new Gods are not in the old God's service? Exposing the weakness and corruption, not just of the powerful, but also the souls that raise their arms in supplication, but cannot find the courage to cast their own bodies to the fire.

    Temples are built and then are cast down; Passion and faith presage both, few are abandoned in disinterest. Gods rise and fall, or transform; few are simply forgotten... If the old God falls, rewritten by heretics, will it be rediscovered in some unknowable future? Assuredly. Truth can be ignored, but never banished. It may not rule the land, but it will still reside where it matters most.

  4. "Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam
    Where the deer and the antelope play
    Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
    And the skies are not cloudy all day"

  5. I must disagree about "the sacred eat of places". God transcends all things, including America and it's laws. The Capitol building is not where God dwells and is not sacred. I think God reigns in the hearts of men, not from the buildings of men.

  6. So Capitol Hill (and by extension DC) has replaced Jerusalem as the navel of the world?


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