Who Is Charles Manson? What Was Helter Skelter?

Who is Charles Manson really? Manson captured the imaginations of millions in 1969 when he was accused of killing actress Sharon Tate and nine others. Charles was a cult leader, musician, poet, artist, and a self-proclaimed messianic figure who allegedly turned serial killer. Charles was never proven to have killed anyone with his own hands.

Still, Charles Manson is serving nine consecutive life sentences for the crimes described in the bestseller Helter Skelter. Since the highly publicized murders and the sale of seven million copies of Helter Skelter, Charles has become a legend of sorts, stirring a strange sort of awe and fascination in a surprising number of people.

Who is Charles Manson now? Now 82-years-old, Charles has been imprisoned since 1969. He has been transferred from prison to a hospital Tuesday, January 3. USA Today reports that Manson is "seriously ill" due to some "gastrointestinal problems." Little more is known about his health at this time.

What was Helter Skelter? Helter Skelter, a book first published in 1974, explained from evidence and the testimony of Charles Manson's followers, just how all this came about. However, there is more to the Helter Skelter definition than just the book title.

Who is Charles Manson?

Even after a tortuous childhood and a delinquent youth as described in the video above, as well as in the book Helter Skelter, Charles was powerfully charismatic and soon attracted a small but loyal band of followers. Calling themselves The Family, Manson's followers alleged Charles performed miracles.

Charles Manson resurrected a dead bird he found in the desert claimed several members of The Family. Charles picked it up off the ground dead and it flew away when he released it, according to their accounts in Helter Skelter. Of course, they were all dropping acid so it would be hard to confirm that.

So Who is Charles Manson? Manson poetically inferred that he was Jesus Christ. He made plays on words with his name, "Man son" and "Son of Man," was a parallel he liked to use. But other times he would claim to be Satan himself. God was everything according to Manson, even Satan, and even himself. His explanation quoted in a PDF by Boyd Rice is quite esoteric and existential.

"Satan to me would be God. You would be God to me. I could worship anything as God."
Charles Manson preached an existential, rather symbolic, seemingly contradictory and difficult to comprehend message to his Family according to Helter Skelter. He still speaks that way to anyone who will listen. Even now there are people who admire him, just as others hate and fear him. Boyd Rice shares a Charles Manson interview from a time when Manson was in San Quentin.
"Who am I? I'm anybody I can get way with being."
So who is Charles Manson? He says he can be anybody. Charles in his chaotic, Helter Skelter style of thinking explains that he would gladly take the uniform and boots of the prison guard and walk out of prison, then become a hobo or street person. Then he could become anyone physically, but for now, he's is just traveling with his mind.
"Look, I would rather be a coyote in the desert than play-act this g*dd**n human thing, this form that I'm in. I've played them all. Which one ain't an act? I don't know."
Who is Charles Manson? Manson says he doesn't know, he's just playing his role. He also inferred that he could soul travel so that his mind could leave the prison and be anywhere. That is a far cry from the Helter Skelter plot, but it matches up with the kinds of things he spoke about back then.
"I'm Out there on the highway [laughs]. Sure, I'm out there on the highway. You might say I'm kinda like Satan. I'm in so many different places as once. Phew! Yeah, it would be very sharp for one person to do all the things I'm going to have to do. To survive."
What is Helter Skelter?

"Helter Skelter," was first and foremost the name of a song off the Beatles White Album. Helter Skelter was also allegedly Charles Manson's code for a race and class war that he predicted would arise amid the turmoil of the era. Manson believed that poor blacks would rise up and murder wealthy whites. When that didn't happen, it is alleged that Charles Manson sent his team to get things started.

Charles Manson
Charles Manson in 1969. [Image by Anonymous/AP Images]

"Helter Skelter" was also what was written in blood on the walls of the murder scenes described in the book Helter Skelter. The term was a sort of false flag calling card for a movement that didn't exist. It was an attempt to stir racial tensions, and evoke class warfare.

Charles Manson alleges that he never killed anyone but there is little doubt that four of his followers committed murder in his name on August 9 – 10, 1969. Charles Manson's involvement in the Tate and LaBianca murders was called "murder by proxy."

The "Helter Skelter" murders were among the most grisly of their time, victims were stabbed, in some cases over 100 times. A fetus was said to have been cut from its mother' s womb and the murders scrawled "Helter Skelter," "pig," and "death to pigs" on the walls in blood.

On August 9, Charles Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel entered the home of famous director, Roman Polanski, and murdered everyone in the home. While Polanski himself was away, his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was brutally murdered as were her house guests and the son of her gardener. They wrote words like "Helter Skelter" on the walls in blood.

The following night the same team plus Leslie Van Houten and Steve "Clem" Grogan murdered Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in a similar fashion. It is unclear and unproven if Charles Manson accompanied these Family members or if he is telling the truth when he claims he was not there.

Charles Manson, according to the book Helter Skelter, was using mind control on his group and that Manson was ultimately responsible whether he was there or not. Who is Charles Manson and why did so many people become convinced he could use mind control? Interviewers who have spoken to Manson have said that his presence is hypnotic, charismatic, and sometimes frightening. At times he can be very charming, though.

Charles Manson California
Charles Manson in prison. [Image by California Dpt. of Corrections/AP Images]

Charles Manson, when questioned about the Family, says he blames them for his being in prison. They were the ones who committed the murder, he says. Manson sometimes claims to have had nothing to do with the murders, at other times though he has inferred that he ordered them to do it. Even more strangely Manson claims to have 900 million followers.

Who is Charles Manson? Charles sees himself as a role model. His words can be found on Boyd Rice's PDF.

"Everybody who has seen me is following in my footsteps. How could they do anything else? It's brand new, never been done. It's history. Every step I take now is history. I'm carrying 900 million people in my mind... I am a child of my time."
Who is Charles Manson? Is he a bad guy? Charley doesn't see himself as any worse than anyone else. Charles claims to see evil in the hearts of most people, no greater and no lesser than in himself.
"We have to be the bad guys so that you can be the good guys. In reality, we know that you're not the good guys. That you guys are worse than we are. Which is acceptable because we're outlaws.... I see you, you can't fake on me."
Charles Manson despite the myth, was a man. Charles has a grasp of esoteric spirituality, existential philosophy, and a powerfully magnetic personality. Manson was, in his day, the charismatic leader that later came to define cult leaders.


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Charles Manson may or may not have committed the murders described in Helter Skelter. There is no evidence that he killed anyone with his own hands, but apparently, something he said, led half a dozen of his followers to believe he was ordering them to commit a murder.

How explicit Charles Manson's instructions were, could be a point of debate, but Charles was found guilty and sentenced at first to the death penalty, but then the death penalty was made illegal in California. Manson was re-sentenced to serve nine consecutive life sentences for the crimes described in Helter Skelter.

Who is Charles Manson? Now waning physically at the age of 82, Charles has become a myth and a legend. He has become another boogie man, a story teens tell by campfires, and he's also become a sort of anti-hero, idol, and heartthrob to some people.

Charles Manson has become an enigmatic figure, a myth based on the book Helter Skelter, and the overwhelming magnetism of his bizarre persona.

[Featured Image by Anonymous/AP Images]