Let’s just get it over with and make marriage equality in Australia a reality

Right now, the plebiscite vote as to whether same-sex marriage should be enshrined in law, is the hot topic du jour. Yes, grown adults in parliament wanting to conduct what is essentially a glorified opinion poll (because the result of a plebiscite vote is not legally binding, therefore the government is not legally obliged to act on the result) to determine if the majority of voting-age Australians agree to two consenting men or two consenting women being allowed to marry.

For the record, I am a straight, cisgender female and I say “yes” to marriage equality. I’m a bit sick and tired of the same old arguments being trotted out by the anti-same-sex marriage brigade. It’s time to do a hatchet job on those arguments, once and for all.


The argument: “But marriage is between a man and a woman!”/”It’s ‘Adam and Eve’, not ‘Adam and Steve’!” etc etc ad nauseum

The definition of marriage and the purpose of marriage has changed over the aeons. Marriage was once a means of forming a strategic alliance between families, has not always only been between one man and one woman, and consent wasn’t a prerequisite until a Benedictine monk decided that consent should be a thing. Hell, marital rape wasn’t even outlawed in Australia until the 1980s. And even now, there’s bound to be at least one person out there who is still yet to accept that a woman in a relationship/marriage doesn’t have to just “lie back and think of England“.

And before anyone harks up about homosexuality being “unnatural”, let’s just point out that homosexuality has been observed in 1,500 known species. Homo Sapiens seems to be the only species that has an issue with it.

Lastly, before anyone bangs on about same-sex marriage “destroying the sanctity of marriage”: Look at the divorce rate in Australia and then come back and say how same-sex marriage will “destroy the sanctity of marriage”. Hands up those who know any same-sex couples who have been together longer than some marriages!


The argument: “But a child needs a mother and a father!”

I wasn’t raised by a same sex couple, so I don’t really have a basis for comparison. But, here are two videos from adult children of gay parents, who talk about their experiences. We’ll just leave these videos here:




But wait! There’s more!



And we’ll leave you with one more for good measure…



I will also leave this video of a young girl who wrote to US President Barack Obama about her two dads:



So that I am not accused of cherry-picking, here are two videos, one from Millie Fontana, and one about Heather Barwick, adult children of gay parents. The former speaks about the impact on how her parents denied her contact with her biological father, and the latter is a report on Heather Barwick, who opposes same-sex marriage. Now, before you start firing off with expletives, hear them out:




Fontana’s argument is not so much an argument against same-sex marriage as same-sex parenting. While Zach Wahls and Erin Judge seemed not to be bothered about their paternal line, Millie wanted to know hers. This argument can be brought up in several scenarios not related to same-sex couples, and there are legal, moral and ethical issues to consider, e.g. anonymity of sperm and/or egg donors.

Barwick argues that same-sex marriage should be opposed because her dad abandoned her, despite the fact her mother and her mother’s female partner loved her very much and did a good job raising her (on her own admission). However, to deny other LGBT people the right to marry because her dad was a jerk is about as absurd as an adult child of heterosexual parents calling for marriage between a man and a woman to be outlawed because one parent repartnered/remarried and the other parent abandoned them. There are heterosexual couples/people out there who aren’t exactly a shining example of how to guide young people to behave as an upstanding member of society. Exhibit A: the father of Brock Turner.

There’s a Yoruba (African) proverb, it takes a village to raise a child. Anyone seen the movie Preaching to the Perverted? [SPOILER ALERT] Remember the very end of the movie? Without giving too much away, let’s just say that the infant girl at the end was the luckiest baby in all of London – she had her dad, her mum, her mum’s (presumably) female partner and her paternal grandmother, all with love in their hearts and all happy to help in raising this child.

The argument: “But same-sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples anyway!”

Well, not quite. In 2007, the Australian Human Rights Commission released this report into the systemic discrimination against same-sex couples enshrined in law at the time, and same-sex law reforms were passed in November 2008. To read the Act in its entirety, click here. These reforms addressed discrimination with regard to social security, taxation and the like. So yeah, Centrelink recognises same-sex couples like it does a marriage or a heterosexual de facto couple.

However, the right of next-of-kin depends on which state you live in. In 2015, in Hobart, a man was denied the right to be next-of-kin of his deceased same-sex partner. Then there was the case of David Bulmer-Rizzi, who died in an accident while honeymooning in Adelaide – and authorities refused to recognise his widower, Marco Bulmer-Rizzi, as David’s husband, let alone his next-of-kin. Victoria, at least, has some legislation in place to help prevent something like this from happening in the first place.

Anyway, enough of the rebuttal of the existing arguments against marriage equality. Now to present some arguments in favour of marriage equality:

#1. John Howard did not need a plebiscite to amend the Marriage Act in 2004

These amendments included the insertion of Section 88EA of the Marriage Act and the definition of “Marriage” under Section 5. And if John Howard didn’t need a plebiscite then, then Malcolm Turnbull certainly doesn’t need one now, especially considering senator Eric Abetz has gone on the record to say that Coalition MPs won’t be bound by the plebiscite result and Liberal Party senator Cory Bernardi has also stated that he will ignore a ‘yes’ result and vote against any marriage equality bill in parliament, which kinda makes the plebiscite pointless.

#2. Same sex couples shouldn’t need the permission of the Australian public to marry

Same sex couples are adults. They vote. They work. They pay taxes. They can buy liquor and cigarettes. They are serving in our defence force. They do all the adult things, JUST LIKE US STRAIGHT FOLK! Married couples, did YOU have to ask permission from the Australian public to marry? No. They will also have the choice whether to marry or not, just as heterosexuals have that choice as it stands.

#3. What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom is none of your damn business

Dear people who oppose marriage equality, is the marriage of a same sex couple going to affect YOUR life in any way? Let me tell you now, it isn’t going to affect mine, so it’s hardly going to affect yours. Never mind this married couple who claimed that they will divorce if same-sex marriage became legal. It’s still their choice, not to mention that they’re “destroying the sanctity of marriage” by divorcing and “living in sin” (an archaic term for a couple living together as husband and wife but not legally married).

#4. It will benefit the wedding industry

The wedding industry in Australia is worth about $2 billion annually. Imagine all the extra revenue generated for businesses such as florists, photographers, jewellers, bakeries (for wedding cakes), formal wear and catering. That means increased employment (directly and indirectly) and more government revenue in the form of income tax and GST.The Liberal Party of Australia are the self-proclaimed champion of small businesses, yet if they want to stimulate “jobs and growth” as they parroted out in the last election, surely this a good start.

Once marriage equality legislation passes and everyone gets over themselves, 40 years from now, people will see the current arguments over same-sex marriage as absurd as our generation sees the hoo-hah over interracial marriage back in the 1960s.

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Learning from the past: Why Mike Baird’s new counter-terrorism bill will fail

On May 4, 2016, New South Wales Premier Mike Baird announced on his Facebook page about new legislation that was tabled in NSW parliament this week.

Today we introduced legislation into Parliament that will allow our Police to detain and question individuals, without charge, for up to 14 days if they are suspected of committing or planning terrorist acts. The laws will apply to anyone over 14 years of age.

– Excerpt from Mike Baird’s Facebook post, 4 May 2016

Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.

“But what could possibly go wrong?” I hear you ask…

The British Parliament enacted similar legislation in the 1970s to combat the IRA terrorist threat

In 1969, the Irish Republican Army was founded. The Provisional Irish Republican Army is the recognised terrorist organisation, not to be confused with the Official Irish Republican Army. The PIRA’s goal was to remove Northern Ireland from British rule and unite it with the Republic of Ireland. Until the PIRA declared a ceasefire on 19 July 1997 (effective 20 July 1997), they were responsible for several bombings and assassinations (among other things) around Northern Ireland and Great Britain, targeting British government officials, military targets, civilians and police.

In 1974, in an effort to combat the IRA, British parliament passed the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1974, which enabled police to detain suspects for up to five days (initially 48 hours) without a warrant and on reasonable suspicion that they were guilty of a terrorism offence. Sounds good in theory, but in practice…

The only people arrested and convicted under the Act were innocent

On 5 October 1974, the PIRA detonated bombs at two pubs in Guildford, Surrey. Their targets were chosen based on the popularity of the two pubs among British army personnel from nearby Pirbright barracks. Then on 7 November 1974, a shrapnel bomb exploded in the Kings Arms pub, Woolwich.

The Guildford Four, as they became collectively known, were:

  • Gerard Conlon
  • Paul Hill
  • Patrick Armstrong
  • Caroline Richardson

The Maguire Seven were arrested on suspicion that they had supplied explosives to the IRA. They were:

  • Anne Maguire
  • Patrick Maguire (Snr)
  • Patrick Maguire (Jnr) (a minor aged 14 years at the time of the bombings)
  • Vincent Maguire (a minor aged 17 years at the time of the bombings)
  • Sean Smyth
  • Patrick O’Neill
  • Patrick “Giuseppe” Conlon

The Guildford Four and Maguire Seven were arrested shortly after the bombings. Despite having alibis that were verified by witnesses, they were detained and charged. They were allegedly beaten and tortured, an allegation which Gerard Conlon maintained right up to his death in 2014. An inquiry was conducted to investigate the failings of the police investigation at the time, but it stopped short of suggesting that there was an official coverup. Gerry Conlon had spoken candidly about the impact the wrongful conviction had had on him and the others since their release, and wrote an autobiography, upon which the movie In the Name of the Father was based. Paul Hill’s letters to his family were donated to the Archive of the Irish in Britain.

The four IRA paramilitaries involved in the Balcombe Street Siege in December 1975, were arrested and brought to trial in 1977. During their trial, they claimed responsibility for the Guildford pub bombings, stating that “four innocent people were in prison for a crime they didn’t commit”, referring to the Guildford Four. Despite this confession, they were never charged, let alone tried, for their alleged involvement in the Guildford pub bombings.

The Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven had their convictions quashed in 1991.

A similar case is the Birmingham Six.

The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act didn’t make the British people any safer, as evidenced by the continued IRA activity up until they declared their ceasefire.

And the legislation currently being tabled in New South Wales isn’t going to make the people of New South Wales any safer either.

“But what about the Lindt Cafe Siege?”

Let’s get this out of the way. Man Haron Monis, the gunman responsible for the siege, had no connections with any terrorist organisation (let alone the Islamic State), was on bail and awaiting trial for being an accessory before and after the fact in the murder of his wife, and for several sexual assaults. Further, ASIO dismissed Monis as a “serial pest” and didn’t take reports regarding posts on Monis’ Facebook page seriously. Muslims who were contacted to help the police comply with Monis’ request for an IS flag, felt as though they were set up. If state and federal governments and the judiciary in Australia treated violence against women as seriously as the threat of terrorism, Monis wouldn’t have been out on bail and the Lindt Cafe siege would never have happened. The last act of terrorism to happen in NSW was the Hilton Hotel bombing in 1978. That’s 38 years ago. And yet, as at 3 May 2016, 30 women have been murdered by a current or former partner in 2016.

Now, just say, hypothetically, that this bill passed into law. Replace “Irish” with “Muslim” and 25 years later, we will hear about how NSW Police tortured suspects and coerced them into signing false confessions, and these confessions were the only piece of “evidence” that the Police had to support their case. Despite having witnesses coming forward to provide evidence supporting alibis (and in this day and age, CCTV footage which proves their suspects were elsewhere at the time of any crime), they will withhold this evidence from the defence to secure convictions, or the defence will otherwise be unable to obtain this evidence to defend their case.

“But wait”, I hear you say, “the police wouldn’t do that!”

NSW Police have a history of corruption

Remember the Wood Royal Commission into Corruption in the NSW Police Service? Do you really think we will trust them to act reasonably? ‘Nuff said.

Still not convinced? I’ll leave you with this little gem:

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
– John Dalberg-Acton

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Memento Mori: the facts of life that we need to talk about

“Over my dead body…”
“I’m here for a good time, not a long time…”
“Would you jump into my grave as quickly?”

You may have heard someone say those words in response to certain scenarios. It’s an acknowledgement of our own mortality.

It’s a reminder that we aren’t getting any younger. And, as the Southern Hemisphere descends into winter, southern hemisphere pagans recently celebrated Samhain (April 30 in the southern hemisphere; 31 October in the northern hemisphere. It’s the original Halloween). As the leaves on the trees wither and fall to the ground, the days get shorter, the nights longer and colder, nature gives us a stark reminder that nothing lasts forever, that certain things need to come to an end before we begin something new. It reminds us of the reality of death.

Samhain was/is the Celtic Festival of the Dead, a time during which deceased loved ones and ancestors are honoured and remembered. It is not so much a mourning of their passing, but a celebration of their lives.Think about it – you are alive because of your ancestors. Mexico has a similar festival, the Dia de Muertos.

Which brings us to the topic of this blog post. Yep, today’s pep talk is about this guy:

grim reaper

The Grim Reaper (Still from the movie Metropolis)


We dodge him, cheat him (and then sometimes follow through with a kick in the balls), we dread that one day (if we even acknowledge it), he will come beckoning at our door. And yet, we have become so divorced from Death that we look upon it as though death is something to be conquered, that we are invincible (News flash – we’re not invincible). And yet, when a loved one, be they human, canine, feline or otherwise, passes on, we are left with heartache, loss and grief in their wake. We are given the cold, harsh reminder of the permanency of death.

Which brings us to the old adage: “There are only two guarantees in life. Taxes, and Death.”

So, let’s explore humankind’s love-hate relationship with death.

The English language  probably has almost as many slang terms for death as it does for sexual intercourse. Here is a clip from the movie Patch Adams, where Patch Adams (portrayed by Robin Williams) gives comfort to a patient who is dying of pancreatic cancer:


Rather than holding the view that the world became poorer on Williams’ passing, the world became richer because he lived. Williams left quite a legacy – and he will be fondly remembered as Mork from Mork and Mindy, not to mention the countless films in which he starred. Arguably, his most memorable moment would have to be his performance in Good Morning Vietnam. The manner of his passing also highlights the need for us to do more for mental health services – it was that dreaded black dog that robbed the world of a beautiful soul. To learn more, I recommend a visit to the website of the Black Dog Institute, which is a non-profit organisation that specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder.

The reminder of your own mortality still hasn’t sunk in yet…


Just be thankful those days are over.

Because this is such a complex topic, it will need to be explored in a series of blog posts, rather than a single one. So, here’s one more to drive home your own mortality:


Now that we’ve driven the point home, it’s time to think about what to do with the time that we’ve got, i.e. while we’re still alive. We also need to get our shit sorted out so that our worldly possessions are divvied out in accordance with our wishes. So, Chapter One of Memento Mori will be all about all the things to do before we die. Here is a list of inspirational quotes to get you going. When you’re done, let’s continue.

Get your affairs in order. Write a will. You’re probably thinking, “But I don’t own a house. I don’t need a will.” Do you have superannuation? Do you have a car? Are you a performing/literary/visual artist whose works are still earning you royalties? Do you have any specific instructions, e.g. cremation or burial, exclusion of specific people from making a claim on your estate, or you have your wishes as to how and where you wish to have your funeral service and wake? Do you have other valuable possessions, such as jewellery or musical instruments, that you wish to be passed down to any specific person? You need to put that in a will. There are DIY will kits available if you know what you want and understand the advice given in these kits. But, if there are any questions you have that aren’t answered in the DIY will kit, or you have complex arrangements (such as a testamentary trust for grandchildren), or if you have debts (such as a mortgage), you need to see a lawyer. A lawyer will be able to draft the will and make sure that it accords with your wishes, advise you on the consequences of making the will, explain the role of the executor appointed under the will, and to make sure that the will revokes any previous wills or codicils that you have made. The lawyer will also ensure that the will is properly executed and witnessed in accordance with the applicable laws to ensure its validity.

But, have you already made a will? If there are changes in your circumstances, such as marriage or divorce, then you need to update your will. Victorian law firm Slater & Gordon has a comprehensive overview of wills, probate and estates, which you can read here.

Is there anything you really, really want to do while you’re still alive? Write a bucket list. This list is limited only by your imagination. Remember, you’re never too old to try anything. Don’t think you’re good at something? Do it anyway, the time will pass regardless. This list below is not necessarily my bucket list, but an example of what a bucket list can look like:

  • Drive the Great Ocean Road
  • Learn a second language
  • Travel and explore foreign lands
  • Learn a new skill, e.g. photography, sewing
  • master a musical instrument
  • Be part of a TV studio audience
  • Learn how to scuba dive/bungee jump etc
  • Make a pilgrimage (e.g. Wacken Open Air if you are a heavy metal fan, Summernats or NASCAR if you are fond of cars or car racing)

Spend quality time with family and friends. Among the most common regrets of the dying, is that they wished they didn’t work so hard, and wished they had spent more time with family and friends. Remember the lyrics to the songs Puff the Magic Dragon and Cats in the Cradle? The former is about a little boy who lost the magick of childhood after he became a man and bearing the burdens of adulthood (not about drug use – go and read those lyrics again some time), and the latter is about a father who regrets not spending more time with his son, to quote the final verse: I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away, I called him up just the other day. I said “I’d like to see you, if you don’t mind”, he said “I’d love to Dad, if I can find the time. You see my new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu, but it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad, it’s been sure nice talking to you.”  When I hung up the phone it occurred to me, he grew up just like me, my boy was just like me…

Go and scrutinise the above picture of the Grim Reaper again. Apart from the scythe, which is his most notable attribute, his other attribute is the hourglass. See if you can find it in the picture. The hourglass serves as a reminder that time waits for no one, and that our time is finite.

Let go of the past. You are not your past. Are some people beyond salvation or redemption? Perhaps they are. Or maybe not. One of my good friends, who passed away in late 2014, was an ex-con, but he was a man who stood by  his convictions, whatever the cost. Writing music became his outlet, his vehicle of expression. Which brings us to…

Be more creative. Creativity heals, creativity inspires, it keeps us out of trouble (we hope). Our modern society devalues creativity, dismissing it as folly. People who make a living in any creative arts (especially photographers and seamstresses, for example) have to fight tooth and nail to justify their rates for their craft. Memes such as this have become necessary to express the bugbears of the creative:

Cinderella sew meme

Add a couple of zeros to that figure and then we’ll talk. (Still from the movie Cinderella)


“But I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” I call bullshit. Everyone has the capacity to create. Some will take longer than others, and that’s okay. Hell, there was a time where I couldn’t even do so much as sew on a button. Still not convinced? Here’s a bit of inspiration. You’ve heard of a guitarist Steve Vai, right? Steve Vai has stated on the record that he was not a natural when he first began to learn the guitar, and practiced 11 hours a day to get better.

And here’s a select clip of Steve Vai in action:


You don’t have to create for the benefit of other people. You create for the benefit of YOU. Even if drawing stick figures on a restaurant napkin serves as a creative outlet, if it gives you satisfaction, that’s all that matters.

The next instalment of Memento Mori will explore death’s place in folklore through the ages, including folkoric tales of the afterlife and the undead (yes, that includes vampires).

To end this blog post, here is a shortlist of movies that deal with the topic of death and dying, in the context of this blog post:

Big Fish
Steel Magnolias

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Why The Craft is one of the most frustrating movies about witchcraft (which also made it awesome)

WARNING: Contains spoilers!

When people hear the word “Witch”, the first image that comes to mind is this:


It’s the go-to costume for Halloween when all other options are not viable. Despite all the dress-ups and fun, witches have had a pretty bad rap over the centuries. Yeah, there are people out there who have claimed to be witches and gone and killed people, or animals even, “in the name of Satan”. Just so you know, even Satanism frowns upon animal cruelty.

It is even written in Exodus 22:18 of the Holy Bible (King James version), Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Ironically, the Christians appropriated all the pagan holidays and turned them into Easter, Christmas etc, even taking pagan symbols (the Easter bunny, the Easter egg, the Christmas tree etc) and claimed them as their own. This topic can be reserved for its own blog post in the near future.

Before the invention of the video camera and the creation of the first motion picture, there were plenty of occult grimoires in circulation, the most famous being the works of Aleister Crowley and Agrippa; on the other side of the coin, there were treatises on identifying, interrogating and convicting witches. The most well-known such treatise is the Malleus Maleficarum, first published in 1486. The persecution of witches continued over the aeons, with the Salem Witch Trials in 1692 among others.

The mantra of “witches = bad” continued into the modern age. Despite the foundation of modern Wicca (founded in the early 1950s by Gerald Gardner), horror movies such as Dario Argento’s Suspiria had evil witches at the crux of their storyline. Mention tarot cards to a non-Wiccan and they will try to convince you of how evil they are, when most tarot readers will describe the tarot as a psychic road map, rather than a means of telling the future – which in turn, they will tell you, is not set in stone. Although for the most part, modern society has stopped blaming witchcraft on their misfortunes or on their own misbehaviour, that’s not to say that it doesn’t still happen – because it does, no matter how few and far between the incidents.

On 3 May 1996, The Craft was released in the United States of America, and released 4 July 1996 in cinemas across Australia. The Craft is copyrighted, released and distributed by Columbia Pictures.

The Craft starred Fairuza Balk, Robin Tunney, Neve Campbell, Rachel True and Assumpta Serna, and was directed by Andrew Fleming.

Since the release of The Craft, subsequent movies such as Practical Magic and TV Shows such as Charmed have helped with the good witchy PR, making witches look less scary and more like your next-door neighbour.

The Craft has been earmarked for a remake, and The Frisky have even listed their dream cast. However, no one will scrutinise The Craft remake as closely as the practising neo-pagans and Wiccans of the world, as they did with the original (as I am about to do in this blog). Given the film industry’s history of how witches have been portrayed in film and TV over the years (let alone the persecution of witches throughout recent history), can you blame them?

All things aside, I enjoyed the movie The Craft. I was pleased to see a movie that shone some light on what Wicca is really all about. The movie Practical Magic, starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, is another movie deserving of its own blog post similar to this one in the not-too-distant future, as it also has a few underlying truths in relation to folk magick generally. And, like The Craft, Practical Magic can be found in my DVD library.

So, what’s The Craft about?

For those who have been living under a rock for the last 20 years, The Craft is a cautionary tale about a group of four teenage witches who use magick to manifest their desires or otherwise bring about change in an aspect of their lives. Their actions, and the consequences thereof, are testament to the saying “Be careful what you wish for”.


Okay, so what is it about The Craft that makes it so frustrating to Neo Pagans and Wiccans?

The Craft is one of the few movies about witches that gives an outsider a glimpse of what it’s actually all about. Far from the evil witches of Wizard of Oz, Hocus Pocus (despite this, I still enjoyed that movie) and B-Grade 80s horror movies, and the fluff of the Good Witch Glinda and the Good Witch of the North from Wizard of Oz, The Craft explains the basic tenets of witchcraft/Wicca as you would find in any book on the subject, with a liberal sprinkling of Hollywood magic (i.e. special effects). I will list some recommended books on Wicca and Wiccan authors at the end of this blog.

Here’s the lowdown:

#1. The Craft had a Dianic Wiccan High Priestess as their technical adviser

Who better to advise the filmmakers on all things Wiccan than an actual practising Wiccan? High Priestess Pat Devin was the technical adviser on the set, and she had a lot of input during pre-production (including input with the screenplay). Actress Fairuza Balk is also a practising Wiccan (or at least at the time of production) and even bought a magickal supplies store, Pan Pipes, in Hollywood shortly after The Craft was released. It is not certain whether she still owns the shop to this day.

So, when you’ve got an actual Wiccan as a technical adviser on the set, you’ll get more than just the standard Hollywood magic on the set…


#2. The Craft used actual Wiccan rituals

The ritual on the beach and the initiation rite in the forest are actual Wiccan rituals. They’re not taken from some obscure occult grimoire – you will find them in most books on Wicca in any New Age store or online bookshop.

The Watchtower ritual which was used on the beach is generally used to cast circle. You can read a more detailed description here and here. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn version of the ritual can be found here. It interesting to note that Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca, was reputedly a member of the Ordo Templi Orientis (and also reputedly a member of the  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He was also a Freemason). The Watchtower ritual is also used in ceremonial magick, and its purpose is the same – to clear the magickal space and create a boundary between that magickal space and the mundane world, and to contain the magickal energies within that boundary. The purpose of the Guardians at the four cardinal points is that of a gatekeeper, to keep out any uninvited entities.

The line “Blessed Be” and the mantra “As Above, So Below” are typically used by Wiccans, and you’ll find them used in any book or website on Wicca, to varying degrees.

“But what about the spells?” You ask… We’ll get to that, but before we do…


#3. The spells (or variations thereof) used in The Craft can be found in any spell book in a New Age store or website

The binding spell used in The Craft is a basic version of many that you will find on the Internet and in spell books in any New Age store. The wrapping of the white ribbon around the photograph is part and parcel to the spell. Its purpose is simple – to stop someone from causing harm upon another. In Cassandra Carter’s book Everyday Magic, she cautions the use of binding spells, summed up in the mantra as you bind, so you are bound.

Love spells – they are at a dime a dozen. All you have to do is a Google search on “Love Spells” and you will get approximately 1.8 million search results in 0.63 seconds.


Love spells google search.PNG

A search on luck and money spells will also get similar results. Yes, I did an actual Google search above to prove my point on the abundance of love spells.

The glamour spells they perform in Nancy’s bedroom after she and her mother move to a new high-rise apartment, work more on the power of suggestion than anything else. There are magick potions available at your local hairdresser, supermarket or pharmacy that work on changing your hair colour (read: hair dye), and as for changing your eye colour, it’s called going to an optician and buying contact lenses.

Technical advisor Pat Devin made sure that the spells referred to in the movie were basic enough that they could be found in any commercially-available book found in any new age store.

But… but… things ended up going wrong!

Okay, before we go into the nitty gritty of why the girls’ spells went wrong, let’s continue with why The Craft is frustrating to witches…

#4. Lirio (the occult store owner) is, for the most part, a walking, talking encyclopaedia of what Wicca is about

Lirio is portrayed in the movie by Assumpta Serna.

While I take issue with Lirio’s comment to Sarah in the first scene, “Maybe you’re a natural witch. Your power comes from within“, she is pretty much spot-on with the Law of the Threefold Return, and her analogy on spellcraft when answering Sarah’s request for advice on how to undo a love spell: “When you open a floodgate, how do you undo it? When we unleash something in a spell, there is no undoing. It must run its course.” She also hits the nail on the head with her response to Sarah’s accusation of black magick: “True magick is neither black nor white. It’s both because nature is both. Loving and cruel, all at the same time. The only good or bad is in the heart of the witch. Life keeps a balance of its own.

As to why I take issue with the comment of Sarah being a “natural witch”, magick, like anything else, is an acquired skill. Anyone can create an effect, if they put in the time and effort to hone their craft. But, they must also be able to control and balance the energies that they are working with. And that takes practice.

Okay, okay… but what about when things started to go wrong?

In the next few paragraphs, we shall explore the how, why etc of the things that went wrong with the girls’ spells. Sure, things initially looked like they were beginning to work in their favour. Then things took a turn.

Seeing as Sarah’s spell was the first to manifest, we’ll start with her…

Sarah’s spell: 

Sarah is portrayed by Robin Tunney.

She cast a spell to get Chris Hooker (portrayed by Skeet Ulrich) to fall in love with her. She broke a cardinal rule of love magick with her spell – She focused her spell on a specific person, and thus interfering with another person’s free will – read about love magick on any website or in any book on the subject, and they will all offer cautionary advice on why it is not a good idea to focus your love magick on a specific person. Cassandra Carter’s book Everyday Magic has a very comprehensive chapter on love magick, and is recommended reading. Apart from the magickal no-no of interfering with another person’s free will, you could find yourself stuck with someone like Chris Hooker, or at least what he had become (whether it was because of the spell, or the magick revealed a hidden aspect of his personality, is anyone’s guess) – obsessive and possessive, not to mention the very real possibility of your own personal safety being jeopardised (Chris turns up at Sarah’s house at 3am after attempting to contact her by telephone, then later attempts to rape Sarah after deceiving her into accompanying him on a drive, making her believe that they were going to see a movie. Luckily, Sarah is able to escape and flee, seeking refuge at Bonnie’s house). The Wiccan Rede, An it harm none, do what thou wilt includes not doing any harm to yourself!

Everyone wants to be with someone [*Citation needed]. To what level of commitment is a personal choice. Love is indeed profitable, as evidenced by the abundance dating websites and dating apps. Florists are well-stocked on flowers for Valentine’s Day, and weddings can cost a small fortune too, depending on the extravagance of the bridal gown, the ceremony and wedding reception, or lack thereof. I think Johnny Cash sums it up best:

Bonnie’s Spell:

Bonnie is portrayed by Neve Campbell.

Bonnie wanted to rid herself of severe burn scars across her back and shoulders, because she felt that she would be more beautiful without them. There is a lesson in her journey as well. If anyone were to think less of her simply because of her burn scars, that says more about the person judging Bonnie than Bonnie herself. While there are cosmetic surgery procedures for burn scars, gene therapy was the form of treatment referred to in the movie – and it is a thing. Burns treatment has come a long way since 1996, with hydrogel and spray-on skin revolutionising the way burns are treated. In the movie, the gene therapy treatment worked for Bonnie (with a bit of magickal assistance), and afterwards, she becomes completely narcissistic. Sarah notices the first signs when the girls visit Nancy in her new condo. As they stroll through the common property towards the main entrance into the complex, worrying over whether their magick had facilitated the death of Nancy’s stepfather, Bonnie spies an attractive man passing them in the opposite direction. She then says flirtatiously, “Hi. Don’t be shy…” then turns back and coos, “Hmm… nice ass.” while the subject of her desires turns his head with a bemused look on his face. Later in the movie, Sarah calls Bonnie out on her behaviour, to which she responds, “Excuse me, but I spent a big chunk of my life being a monster and now that I’m not, I’m having a good time and I’m sorry if that bothers you.”

Bonnie is testament to the saying, beauty is only skin deep. But she can hardly be blamed for her way of thinking. We live in a world that seems to value the aesthetic of a woman’s brain-case more than its contents, and is adequately summed up when Bonnie said, “Except me” when Nancy tells Sarah that Chris Hooker “comes on to anything with tits”. We see images of photoshopped ideals of beauty, splashed across billboards and magazine covers, in a society that worships youth. Teenage girls feel pressured to conform to this ideal that appears to be imposed upon them by the bombardment of these images on our billboards and in fashion magazines. If only someone told Bonnie that her scars were beautiful – that they told the world that one day, Death had come for her but she fought him and said defiantly, “Not today!”, and lived to see another day. And if only Chris Hooker and his friends could see that too.

I now present to you, a shining, real-world example of inner beauty shining through from beneath the burn scars. Below is a 60 Minutes interview with Turia Pitt, who survived horrific burns after being caught in a bushfire while running an ultramarathon in Western Australia’s Kimberley region.  Turia Pitt’s partner had bought an engagement ring while she was in intensive care, and they are now engaged to be married. Hmmm. That just made the Chris Hooker character look like an even bigger arsehole.

Before we move on to the next one, we will have a little intermission with this fun fact: Brenda Strong, the actress who portrayed the surgeon in The Craft, had previously appeared in Spaceballs as a nurse – you know, the one who assisted the plastic surgeon  Darth Helmet hired, so he could hold King Roland of Druidia to ransom if he didn’t give Darth Helmet the combination to enable the Spaceballs to deplete Druidia’s atmosphere. He threatened to perform a rhinoplasty on Princess Vespa to restore her old nose if King Roland didn’t give in to Darth Helmet’s demands. Yes, Brenda Strong was the sexy nurse!  Since The Craft’s release, Strong appeared in the movie Get a Job as psychiatrist Emily LaCrosse, and in the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode Overload as a doctor. Another notable role in which she didn’t play a doctor, was in Starship Troopers as Captain Deladier, breaking away from the medical professional typecast.

And, back to the witchy stuff…


Rochelle’s Spell

Rochelle is portrayed by Rachel True.

After dealing with nasty comments and taunts from Laura Lizzie (portrayed by Christine Taylor) over what seems a prolonged period of time, Rochelle finally confronts Lizzie and demands an explanation from her as to why she is being so mean, to which Lizzie casually responds with, “I don’t like negroids. Sorry”, revealing herself to be a bit of a racist. So, Rochelle seeks a bit of revenge.

Rochelle’s spell involved using a lock of Laura’s hair, which Sarah obtained while she casually strolled past Laura, and reaching out and yanking out a few strands of hair as Laura walked in the opposite direction. The lock of hair was then braided into Rochelle’s hair, and the spell began to manifest at the swimming centre as Rochelle took to the diving board. Laura Lizzie’s usual taunts were silenced when she noticed her hair falling out as she took off her swimming cap. Not to be perturbed, Rochelle performed her dive, for the coach to see, finally. Later in the movie, it is revealed that all Laura’s hair has fallen out and she has to wear a wig. She approaches Rochelle and just says “Hi, how are you doing?” – then the camera cuts to the bedroom, but not before we hear Laura begin what we can only assume is an apology, with “Listen…” while Rochelle understandably appeared a little defensive.

In the movie, it looked as though Laura’s scalp had been burned, and chemical burns from hair dye is known to happen. Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease by which the immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing the hair to fall out.

It was difficult to feel any kind of sympathy for Laura, especially because of how nasty she was to Rochelle (and why). Rochelle’s acknowledgement of her spell quickly descended into schadenfreude when she boasts about how Laura has to wear a hat to hide her patchy scalp. But, Laura’s attitude could possibly be attributed to her upbringing.

“Racism isn’t born, folks. It’s taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps. End of list.”
– Denis Leary

There are studies that have shown that racism is a learned behaviour, mainly from parents and/or family members. If Laura Lizzie’s casual racism was a product of her upbringing, and her racist attitude was indeed learned (I am going to go with learned behaviour because she later approaches Rochelle to make amends), did she really deserve to have all her hair fall out as some sort of punishment? This falls into a grey area. As Sarah said to Rochelle while she braided the strand of Laura’s hair into Rochelle’s, “If she leaves you alone, nothing will happen to her” after Rochelle asked what would happen to Laura. Obviously Laura had continued to taunt Rochelle, given that the spell had manifested, and Rochelle probably didn’t think it all through, as hair may or may not grow back through burn scar tissue, depending on the severity of the burn (going by the chemical burn theory).

And last, but not least…

Nancy’s spell

Nancy is portrayed by Fairuza Balk.

Nancy is probably the most complex character of the four girls. She has a dominant personality, and is very much the alpha of the group, even before Sarah joined them, but this dominance becomes more apparent as the story moves on. Her spell was simple – she wanted “All the power of Manon” (it should also be pointed out that “Manon” is a fictional deity – Pat Devin advised against referencing a real deity for the movie). Nancy didn’t state her intent or purpose for this power – she just wanted power for its own sake.

Taking in that kind of power into a physical body and a mental state that are already in a state of chaos (that being puberty and sexual awakening, and a mind that has been impacted by living in a dysfunctional household) would invariably create chaos, and we could see how it affected Nancy after her spell began to manifest. The results of her spell were indeed tragic – her stepfather suffered a fatal cardiac arrest, but he had left a life insurance policy that made her mother rich, enabling them to move out of the hovel of a home that they were living in and into a new, swank apartment with new furniture. When they performed the Watchtower ritual on the beach, the next morning the beach was awash with sea creatures that had beached themselves.

And then things get worse…

She uses her glamour spell to take on the likeness of Sarah, in order to seduce Chris. When Nancy calls out Chris for his atrocious behaviour towards women (again, another learned behaviour that he probably observed in the interactions between his parents), Chris utters a feeble “sorry”. Nancy, of course, doesn’t believe him. So, with a bit of magickal assistance, the french doors swing open and Chris is sent to his death over the balcony. And then Sarah is on the receiving end of her magick, subjecting Sarah to night terrors and then the little stunt at the occult shop, then Sarah’s home.

Things ultimately didn’t end well for Nancy. I won’t say what became of her, you’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.

On the surface, it appears that Nancy was nothing more than a wicked witch. I disagree. She wasn’t inherently evil, but appeared to be motivated by revenge. Look at all the people she targeted – her obnoxious stepfather, who in one scene in their home, lifted up Nancy’s nightgown, saying “Look at that, you can almost see through that thing!” We only get to see the tip of the iceberg as to the extent of how he treated her (and her mother).  In her stepfather’s case, did she break the Wiccan Rede of “an’ it harm none, do what thou wilt”?

You can read these articles here, here, here, here and here about children who killed an abusive parent or step-parent. How is Nancy’s use of magick to cause death to her abusive stepfather any different to how the children in the linked articles killed their abusive parent? Note that it all happens after Nancy’s stepfather raised his hand at her mother. And before anyone throws around the bible quote “Honour thy mother and thy father”, why should anyone, let alone a parent or step-parent, who abuses a child be worthy of being honoured? There is no honour in child abuse.

When Nancy warns Sarah about Chris, we get an insight into the psyche of Chris Hooker. A young man who uses young women for his own pleasure, with little regard for their feelings or desires. When Nancy warns Sarah that he “spreads disease”, it becomes apparent that Chris is promiscuous, and picked up an STI from one of his “conquests”, then passed it on to Nancy, which is revealed when Nancy says quietly, “I’m talking from personal experience”. Teenagers, this highlights the importance of safe sex. If you’re going to engage in sexual activity, “It would be much sweeter if you wrapped up your peter“. The contraceptive pill only helps prevent pregnancy, but condoms and other barrier prophylactics help prevent the transmission of STIs. But coming from a dysfunctional household, Nancy would have likely complied with any request from Chris not to use protection in order to keep the peace, not wanting to make a scene, and blindly trusting Chris (who probably told her “but I don’t have any diseases”). But did Chris deserve to die? In Chris’ case, after getting the mother of all earbashings from Nancy, he had every chance to change his ways, if only Nancy listened to Sarah and just walked away. But no. Had Nancy let him live, he would have been given ample opportunity to redeem himself.

Then when Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle began to invade her dreams, find out what was inside her head, we could see the effects it was having on Sarah – anxiety, nightmares and night terrors, among other things, can keep people from having a good night’s sleep, and there has been study after study on the effects of sleep deprivation on the human body, and the consequences of not getting a good night’s sleep. So absolutely, Nancy was causing harm to Sarah. As to why Nancy targeted Sarah in the first place, Sarah was the only one of the other three girls who dared to challenge Nancy’s authority, and Nancy didn’t take to the criticism too kindly. Sensitivity to criticism is a trait you’ll find in a child from a dysfunctional household. Nancy was abused, neglected and exploited, and sought revenge against the people who had wronged her instead of focusing on improving herself and her self-worth.

The ending wasn’t a case of “and they all lived happily ever after”. The girls all had to deal with the consequences of their actions in their own way and (hopefully) learned something from it.

Okay, but isn’t witchcraft dangerous? I mean, look what happened to Nancy?

Fire is dangerous, but people still use fire to warm their home and cook their food, and people still light candles in their home. Electricity is dangerous, but people still use electricity to warm their home and cook their food, and power their electronic devices that provide hours of entertainment. But, if used with the proper care, consideration and precautions, witchcraft can enhance and enrich our lives, just as the use of fire and electricity has enhanced and advanced our society.


Recommended further reading:

Encyclopaedia of Spirits: the ultimate guide to the magic of fairies, genies, demons, ghosts, gods and goddesses by Judika Illes, HarperOne ISBN 978-0-06-135024-5

A Witches’ Bible: The Complete’ Witches Handbook by Janet and Stewart Farrar, Robert Hale Publishers ISBN 13: 0-978-7090-7227-0

Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Millennium by Vivianne Crowley, Thorsons ISBN 0-7225-3271-7

The Grimoire of Lady Sheba, Jessie Wicker Bell (Lady Sheba), Llewellyn Worldwide ISBN 0-87542-076-1

Spellbound: The Secret Grimoire of Lucy Cavendish, Lucy Cavendish, Rockpool Publishing ISBN 978-1-925017-15-1

Witchcraft Theory and Practice, Ly De Angeles, Llewellyn Worldwide ISBN 978-1-566718-782-3

Any book by Christopher Penczak, Raymond Buckland or Scott Cunningham

If you find tarot cards rather unsettling, these oracle card decks are recommended alternatives:

Messenger Oracle by Ravynne Phelan, Blue Angel Publishing ISBN 978-0-9872041-1-0

Gods and Titans by Stacey Demarco and illustrated by Jimmy Manton, Blue Angel Publishing ISBN 978-0-98087 19-2-0

Goddesses and Sirens by Stacey Demarco and illustrated by Jimmy Manton, Blue Angel Publishing ISBN 978-0-9808719-5-1

Wisdom of Avalon Oracle cards by Colette Baron-Reid, Lifestyles Publishing ISBN 978-1-4019-1042-6

The Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marashinsky and illustrated by Hrana Janto, US Games Systems Inc ISBN-13: 978-1-57281-546-9 & ISBN-10: 57281-546-9

Posted in Movies & TV, Pop Culture, Religion & Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travellin’ ’round the GoW countryside: how Ancient Kingdom teleports have changed the face of Game of War: Fire Age


Screenshot from the opening page, just before it loads

Okay, so it’s been a while since my last blog post about Game of War: Fire Age. The game has evolved in leaps and bounds since my last post, most notably:

  • New maximum hero level 60 (introduced late July 2015)
  • New March research (increased march size, rally size capacity and embassy troop capacity increase)
  • Wild Combat (new Wild Troops, tiers 1-4)
  • Alliance City Bazaar
  • Alliance City Combat
  • New hero research (World Boss monsters)
  • New Hero gear sets and core sets
  • Ancient Kingdoms
  • Kingdom Merge

The most profound change in Game of War: Fire Age is the creation of ancient kingdoms. Protected kingdoms become ancient based on:

  • The age of the kingdom (typically kingdoms at least 6-8 months old are earmarked to become ancient kingdoms)
  • Population size (low population kingdoms tend to be given first preference for becoming ancient)

If your kingdom has recently become an ancient kingdom, expect a Kingdom Merge kill event within weeks of becoming an ancient kingdom. It may be as early as a week after becoming an ancient kingdom.

My first kingdom, Ferdi (Kingdom 498) became an ancient kingdom just after New Year’s Day, 2016. In the first weekend in January, we had our Merge KVK against kingdom Caelan. Ferdi won (which came as a shock to everyone, given the kingdom’s long-running KVK losing streak). Several Caelan players weren’t too happy with the results, with one player changing his player name to “FUK FERDI” at the conclusion of the event.

Another perk that came with the creation of ancient kingdoms, is the ancient kingdom teleport. Just like your advanced and random teleports (which you can use to port within a given kingdom), ancient kingdom teleports come in advanced and random. Don’t like the kingdom your stronghold (and hero) grew up in? Got a lover in another kingdom and you want to be with him/her in-game, and port over to his/her kingdom or get him/her to port over to yours? Or do you and your alliance want to be GoW’s answer to the Leyland Brothers? Pick a kingdom and use your advanced ancient kingdom teleport, or leave it to chance and use a random ancient kingdom teleport and see where it takes you. (NB: The ancient kingdom teleports are only available in gold packs, so be sure to keep an eye out for them when they become available.) After the Ferdi/Caelan merge KVK, several players from both kingdoms had indicated that they had ancient kingdom teleports on the ready, in the event that the outcome was not in their favour.

I waited until the end of January to give the ancient teleports a try. I had two random ancient kingdom teleports in my inventory. I used my first one, and found myself in Jaakko (Kingdom #555). I collected scores of heroes (mostly non-executable), and brought them back to Ferdi for a bit of “Hero Racing” – How “hero racing” works (and I first did this during a kill event), you go into another kingdom, collect as many non-executable heroes as you can, teleport home and then shield to release (or deconstruct your prison to release if you port in the forest). The first hero past the kingdom border is the winner. At the time, no one thought to place bets on which hero would pass the kingdom border first. I had to rename a few captives, but the lag while scrolling down the long list of captured heroes was terrible because I had captured so many. I have so many Captured Hero Renames in my inventory, thanks to prizes earned in kill events. I chose names of famous race horses (one hapless hero got renamed Makybe Diva, and another got renamed Phar Lap), others got something else entirely. But that was but a drop in the ocean of possibilities presented by the introduction of ancient kingdom teleports:


#1. Outlanders can teleport in and make your kingdom their new home

Before the Ferdi/Caelan merge, a few lone wolves ventured in to Ferdi and made themselves at home in a Ferdi alliance. Many had their reasons for wanting to move from their home kingdom. They had ported to Ferdi by choice (and in some cases, by chance) and they were welcomed by the kingdom. One or two decided to stay for good.


#2. Outlanders will port in on a Wonder Dungeon “vacation”

One random day in Ferdi, all was quiet… until somebody posted in the kingdom chat, “Hey! Stayalive77 is at the wonder!”


Yes, the then-Emperor of the Kingdom of Fire himself, Stayalive77, was at our wonder. The poor fellow had to deal with people one-trooping and scouting him while his hero negotiated the wonder dungeon. Subsequently, several big players rocked up to send their heroes into the depths.

That’s all the fun stuff. However, there’s a catch…


#3. Outlanders can teleport in and raze your kingdom, without the benefit of a KVK

There are going to be players who will port around from kingdom to kingdom, to burn everything in sight. There were outlanders drifting around Ferdi, burning people, tile hitting and collecting heroes.

Now, here’s the cold, harsh truth about being in an ancient kingdom: Even if your kingdom had set rules and everyone abided by them, nothing is going to stop a player from another kingdom from porting in and doing whatever they want. Because fuck you and fuck your rules, that’s why. They pay their money and they’ll play the game however they want. Throw the rule book away, it’s not even worth the paper it’s printed on. You can moan in kingdom chat about tile hitting until you are blue in the face, but you may as well appeal to a brick wall.

Having said that, it’s not just the lone wolves you have to worry about. Whole rally teams had shown up in Ferdi…


#4. Rally teams can turn up in your kingdom and really raise hell

Ferdi got two surprise visits on two different occasions from rally teams hailing from other kingdoms. The first was just after Ferdi became an ancient kingdom, and the second was  after the merge with Caelan was complete. (On a side note, the Ferdi/Caelan merge took 10 days to complete, because MZ bit off more than it could chew by holding several merge kvks at once.)

The first time around was just before Ferdi’s merge kill event, when a posse from an alliance in kingdom 412 (Andris), turned up and challenged the top alliances for the wonder. Of course, the top alliances got their hackles up. Who the hell do these people think they are? the top alliances were thinking. Ancient Kingdom teleports were set to change the game profoundly, yet some people were in denial, or just wilfully ignorant to the new doors of possibilities the ancient teleports opened. The Andris players rattled a few cages (and certainly angered the top alliances when they started spending the kingdom’s crowns on various economics boosts), but what the kingdom experienced was a taste of things to come. The Andris players made it known that Ferdi had earned a reputation as a farming kingdom (as evidenced by other lone wolves, including one sole member of Stayalive77’s alliance D:V, with a collection of up to 70 executable heroes from Ferdi strongholds in their prison) and they had turned up to motivate Ferdi to put its collective fighting gloves on. Andris had its merge kill event on the same weekend as Ferdi, and ironically, Ferdi won its merge kvk; Andris lost theirs. And when I said they were giving Ferdi a taste of things to come…

Shortly after Caelan was absorbed into Ferdi and everyone had settled in, Ferdi was, once again, the unwilling host to a posse of unannounced visitors. The alliance Bx$ (Blood Oath Syndicate) decided to pay Ferdi a visit, and caught a few big players with their shields down, heroes in research gear. Of course, they proceeded to zero the unlucky souls (surely the Andris episode should have taught them a thing or two)…

The fun really started when a banned account at around 17bn power, caught their eye. The hero was still in the city, and the hero’s equipped gear was masked thanks to Hades gems. The banned account had come in from Caelan, and according to the Caelan players, the gemmed gear was in fact the full Haunted Xena set gear. Not to be deterred, Bx$ rallied the banned account… and the banned account ate the entire march and captured the rally leader’s hero. (It didn’t help that the rally leader’s choice of cores was the Dragon King set, now a little bit piss weak against Haunted Xena compared to the new core sets.) The rally leader ultimately had to hemlock to get his hero back. They hung around for a few days, dragging out the wonder battle for as long as they could, much to the chagrin of top alliances. But, Ferdi can’t complain, players from Ferdi did the same thing in Latrell (Kingdom 659) about a week before this blog was posted… And as I type this, I log in to my farm account, which is still in Ferdi, and discover that Blood Oath Syndicate have made a return visit…


#5. Your adopted kingdom will become your new home kingdom if it loses a merge kill event (if you don’t port home beforehand)

About a week or so after my little misadventure in Jaakko,  I used my second ancient random teleport to see where it would take me. I found myself in Kalmarsa, kingdom 657. Within minutes of arriving, they welcomed me like an old friend and I was invited to join an alliance. I dropped my tags and joined one of the top alliances in that kingdom. Kalmarsa had only just become an ancient kingdom, and their merge kill event was imminent. I told my new alliance members (and the other players in the kingdom) about Ferdi’s merge with Caelan. They asked, “When can we expect our merge?” My reply was, “As early as this weekend, but definitely within a month.” Sure enough, their merge kill event was the forthcoming weekend, so I decided to stick around and fight with them.

Kalmarsa ultimately lost the merge war, and the next question to me was, “How long until the merge is complete?” I told them about Ferdi’s long wait for the merge (Ferdi and Caelan both had a 16-way KVK in the interim, while they waited for MZ to get their shit together. The choice of kingdoms in Ferdi’s KVK was a dick move on part of MZ – of the 16 kingdoms, 10 had completed their merge, and not surprisingly, those ten kingdoms were in the top ten kingdoms for that kill event – the bottom 6 were all low population kingdoms). To my utmost surprise, Kalmarsa and Latrell didn’t have to wait anywhere near as long as Ferdi and Caelan did. Two or three days after the KVK, the merge was complete. One morning, I logged in to my main account to say hello to my alliance members and collect gifts. Kalmarsa still existed. I log out to take a shower, then dress for work and make a coffee, come back and lo and behold, I found my stronghold in the middle of Nowhere, Latrell! Then, I noticed this at the bottom of my player profile:



Yup, Ferdi was ousted and Latrell became my new home kingdom. Had I used an ancient home teleport before the merge was complete, Ferdi would have remained my home kingdom. But, I saw it as a good thing. I haven’t been back to Ferdi since, but…

#6. You will always run into your old kingdom mates from time to time

Meanwhile, in Ferdi, my absence was seemingly felt across the kingdom. So, one or two from alliance @fF in Ferdi, decided to visit Latrell…


Then, weeks later, they came back and brought half the bloody kingdom with them…


They did in Latrell what Blood Oath Syndicate did in Ferdi. So, next time a bunch of outlanders port into your kingdom and take over your wonder, chances are that an alliance in your kingdom is planning the same thing.

Posted in Freemium Games, Gaming | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

5 non-metal songs covered by metal bands (who made it their own)

A cover song (or cover version) is a commercially released song that has been newly performed or recorded by an artist other than the original artist/composer. Here is a list of the Top 10 most covered songs according to Independent UK. One of the most well-known cover versions of an original song is Jimi Hendrix’s version of Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower. Here’s Bob Dylan’s version:

And Jimi Hendrix’s version:

There are cover versions in every genre, and there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to cover versions. Anything goes. There are even cover bands who exclusively perform covers.

Even metal bands cover songs of anything they damn well please. Firstly, it is absolutely absurd and hilarious to suggest that heavy metal music and every other genre in existence are mutually exclusive; there are plenty of metal fans who listen to Tori Amos and Lana Del Rey. So, let’s get that brain-fart of a thought out of our minds. (And if you’re a metal fan, there’s absolutely NO SHAME in liking something out of the heavy metal spectrum. Ditto if you are not a metalhead but like a band in the heavy metal spectrum. It happens.)

It’s even more fun when a metal band covers a song from a non-metal band. For the purposes of this blog, I am going to include non-metal songs covered by goth, rock and alternative bands,  or a less extreme song covered by a more extreme band. Here we go with the songs that got the metal makeover:

#1. The Hunt

Composer/s: Justin Sullivan, Robert Heaton
Original artist:
New Model Army
Covered by: Sepultura
Original appears on: Ghost of Cain, released 1986 (EMI)
Cover appears on: Chaos AD, released 1993 (Roadrunner Records)

The Hunt is a song about an undisclosed number of siblings who avenge their brother after the judicial system appeared to have failed them. The lyrics leave the circumstances open to the imagination, so whatever happened to the brother is anyone’s guess. (My guess is the brother became addicted to heroin and the siblings are pursuing one of the dealer’s lackeys, but you can come to your own conclusion.)

Here’s the original New Model Army version:

And the Sepultura version:

New Model Army’s signature sound is defined by the “lead bass” in their sound. Conventionally, the bass player plays the root note of of the guitar chord progression, whereas New Model Army turns that convention on its head with the bass guitar being the dominant instrument. Other notable bands with a dominant bass sound (albeit deviating from New Model Army’s bass style) include Primus and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Sepultura simplify the bass, sticking to their own foundations with their cover version. By reading the comments on the above YouTube video, some commenters expressed their disdain at the bass lines being stripped down, as though Sepultura committed an act of blasphemy. Wouldn’t it be more blasphemous if Sepultura performed a carbon copy of The Hunt instead of giving it the Sepultura flavour? Sepultura took the New Model Army song and made it sound like Sepultura. And their version of The Hunt fits in well with the other tracks on Chaos A.D.

Let’s move on to a song (or two) that got a dramatic makeover…

#2. Little Black Angel

Composer/s: Douglas P. (reinterpreted from the song “Black Baby” by People’s Temple Choir, which in turn was a reinterpretation of “Brown Baby” by Oscar Brown, Jr.)
Original Artist: Death in June
Covered by: Death Wolf (electronica outfit Ladytron also did their own take, but this blog post is about the metal version)
Original appears on: But, What Ends when the Symbols Shatter?, released 1992 (New European Recordings) [“Black Baby” appears on He’s Able, released 1973 (Brotherhood Records), “Brown Baby” appears on Sin & Soul… And Then Some, released 1960 (Columbia Records)]
Cover appears on: Death Wolf II: Black Armoured Death, released 2013 (Blooddawn Productions/Century Media)

What we have here is an excellent example of how an original song can undergo a major evolution, in this case through three generations of artists (Oscar Brown, Jr -> Peoples Temple Choir -> Death in June). Not only did the artists subsequent to Oscar Brown Jr make his song their own, they took “let’s make this our own” to a new level by practically re-writing the song. Here’s the Oscar Brown, Jr original:

Here’s the People’s Temple Choir reinterpretation:

The People’s Temple Choir were the choral group of the People’s Temple of the Disciples of Christ, the religious cult central to the Jonestown Mass Suicide on or about November 18, 1978. Their leader was pastor Jim Jones, who was among the dead at Jonestown.

Here is the grandchild of Brown Baby, Little Black Angel, performed by Death in June, a group who has courted controversy (albeit less serious) of their own:

Which song was then covered by Death Wolf. Okay, so Death Wolf aren’t strictly a metal band, but they are metal by association – their founding member is Marduk guitarist Morgan Håkansson.They took an acoustic song and metalled it up:

There is speculation abound, floating around in the vast corners of cyberspace, as to Death In June’s inspiration behind Little Black Angel. But, it could have been left open for the imagination of the listener, just like The Hunt. But, let’s focus on the music. Compared to the Death In June song, the Death Wolf cover is played in a different key (presumably to fit within Maelstrom’s vocal range). On a side note, even long-established bands will play their own early songs in a different key, because the voice changes as we age.

Okay, on to the next one:

#3. Born to Die

Composer/Original Artist: Lana Del Rey
Covered by: Tiamat
Original appears on: Born to Die, released in January 2012 (Interscope/Polydor)
Cover appears on: The Scarred People, released in November 2012 (Napalm Records)

Born to Die is the title track from Lana Del Rey’s second full length album. It’s a song with melancholy lyrics, sung to a sombre melody. Here it is, in all its glory:

Swedish goth/metal band Tiamat were quick to see a golden opportunity to take Born to Die and made it their own:

The result is a cover version that makes Lana Del Rey look like a goth in denial. I have always been a fan of Tiamat, but I became a fan of Lana Del Rey because of Tiamat’s cover version. My experience is testament to how a band doing a cover version can work in the original artist’s favour.

Meanwhile, in Australia…

#4. On a Night Like This

Composers: Steve Torch, Graham Stack, Mark Taylor, Brian Rawling
Original Artist: Pandora; Kylie Minogue’s version is technically a cover (and Anna Vissi performed her own version), but Minogue made it famous
Covered by: Lord
Original appears on: Light Years, released in 2000 (Parlophone/EMI/Mushroom)
Cover appears on: Set in Stone, released in 2009 (Dominus Records)

This pop song is one that has done the rounds; the version most English speakers are familiar with is the Kylie Minogue version:

Sydney power metal band Lord decided to do their own take on the song, right down to the music video:

Seriously, these guys are just taking the piss. Having seen Lord live, the video pretty much captures the essence of their Loki-esque stage presence.

Even traditional folk songs are not safe from the metal treatment…

#5. Scarborough Fair

Composer/s: English Traditional; original composer unknown
Original Artist: Unknown; earliest commercial recording was by Gordon Heath and Lee Payant; subsequent recordings by A. L. Lloyd, Simon & Garfunkel and Marianne Faithful
The metal cover: Leaves’ Eyes
Earliest commercial recording(s) appear(s) on: Heath/Payant – Encores from the Abbaye, released in 1955 (Elektra); A. L. Lloyd – The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, released in 1952; Simon & Garfunkel – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme, released in 1966 (Columbia); Marianne Faithful – North Country Maid, released in 1966
the Metal cover version appears on: Njord, released in 2009 (Napalm Records)

Trust a traditional folk song to be given a revival during the hippie-love-child era, the 1960s. When anyone mentions Scarborough Fair, the first artist that comes to mind is Simon & Garfunkel, so here is their version:

Leaves’ Eyes are not the only band in the goth/metal spectrum to cover Scarborough Fair, but their version is epic, of Ben Hur proportions:

And how could anyone not favour the ethereal voice of Liv Kristine?

While this is by no means an exhaustive (or definitive) list, there are plenty more heavy metal covers of pop songs that I have not yet discovered. So in the meantime, enjoy.

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The dark side of Australia’s history: The conversation we need to have

January 26 is Australia Day. It’s our national day, and a gazetted public holiday. Why January 26? Because it was on this day in 1788 when a fleet of 11 ships, filled with Britain’s convicts (and free settlers), landed in Botany Bay to found a penal colony in New South Wales. The Britons were sending their convicts to the Thirteen Colonies in North America, however a war was waged against them, and the Britons ultimately got their arses handed to them. After 1783, the British had to find another dumping ground for their convicts because the newly-formed United States informed the Brits that they won’t be taking in any more. And so, the British chose Australia as their new designated convict dumping ground.

Fast forward to 2016. Australia Day is one where we will be seeing a lot of this:

fck yeah straya cunt
And (rightly so), being reminded of this:


Map of the Indigenous regions of Australia. A large scale map can be downloaded here.

The history between 1788 (the arrival of the First Fleet) and 1901 (when Australia became a Federation) was glossed over in history class when I was in high school. More class time was dedicated to the Eureka Stockade, Ned Kelly, the Gold Rush and the First Fleet, and  the stories of the Myall Creek Massacre and Bennelong were just footnotes in the pages of history. The Lambing Flat riots got more coverage than Myall Creek. Hell, I had never even heard of Pemulwuy until a new suburb in Sydney was established in 2004, bearing that name.

By and large, the picture painted in our minds was that the colony was peaceful for the most part, aside from occasional clashes with the indigenous people.

As it turns out, Australia’s early colonial history was more violent than what my high school history class led us to believe. And our society can pretend it doesn’t exist until they are blue in the face, but, you can’t change the past.

Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnetsov. Painted in 1887

Yup, these guys showed up. Not even colonial Australia was safe from these jerks.


Australian colonial history was pretty violent. Time to explore the seemingly forbidden vaults of history…

The Australian Frontier Wars

Yep, you read that right. Initially things seemed peaceful between the European settlers and the indigenous tribes (and Governor Arthur Phillip wanted to keep it that way, under instructions from his superiors in Britain), but the first violent clash between the indigenous people and the European settlers was in May 1788, when the settlers started clearing land and catching fish.

As the European settlements along the coastline expanded, the clashes with the indigenous people became more frequent. The settlers began to encroach on the indigenous people’s traditional hunting and gathering grounds, creating fierce competition for resources, with the first frontier war in 1795 at the Hawkesbury River. The Frontier Wars dragged on for another 140 years. The most notable conflicts in this period were:

The Indigenous Resistance

Eora warrior Pemulwuy united three indigenous tribes (the Eora, Dharug and Tharawal) and led a series of campaigns against the European settlers from 1792 until his death on 2 June, 1802. He led most of his raids on settlements at Toongabbie, Georges River, Hawkesbury River, Parramatta, Prospect and Brickfield Hill (modern day Surry Hills).

One campaign Pemulwuy led was, among others…

The Battle of Parramatta – March 1797

After leading several raids in Toongabbie and the Hawkesbury, Pemulwuy led a band of 100 indigenous warriors in a raid on the British colony at Parramatta, during which five of Pemulwuy’s men were killed and Pemulwuy himself was wounded after colonists opened fire. Pemulwuy was captured and taken to a hospital, but he escaped from the hospital, despite his wounds and the leg iron shackled around his ankle.

Governor Phillip Gidley King later declared a bounty on Pemulwuy, and on 2 June 1802, Pemulwuy was shot dead, and his severed head was later shipped off to England. To this day, the exact whereabouts of his skull (or who has possession of it) remains unknown.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the colony…

Bathurst War, 1824

With the expansion of the Sydney colony, the European settlers searched for new lands for crops and settlements. Their biggest challenge was successfully crossing the Blue Mountains, and in 1813, explorers Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth successfully crossed the Blue Mountains (albeit using an Aboriginal track across the mountains), paving the way for a future settlement at Bathurst. When Thomas Brisbane was appointed Governor of New South Wales following Governor Macquarie’s resignation in December 1821, Brisbane changed the settlement laws, allowing land grants to be issued freely, especially land in the Blue Mountains and in the new settlement of Bathurst. As a consequence, the Wiradjuri people were dispossessed of their traditional hunting and gathering lands.

With nowhere to hunt and gather food (and everyone needs to eat), the Wiradjuri resorted to attacking the settlers’ livestock for food. This didn’t go down too well with the farmers. In early 1824, however, as a gesture of goodwill, one farmer offered potatoes to a passing tribe, who graciously accepted. The following day, they returned and helped themselves to the potatoes in the fields. The farmer didn’t take to this too kindly, and opened fire on the foragers, with many killed or wounded. The incident is testament to lack of understanding between cultures. Following the incident in the potato field, one of the survivors led a series of attacks on nearby stations.

In response, on August 14, 1824, Governor Brisbane declared martial law, and a detachment was sent in from the 40th Regiment, with reinforcements from local militia. The Wiradjuri ultimately surrendered, and martial law was repealed on 11 December 1824.

Myall Creek Massacre

In or about 1838, gangs of marauding stockmen were roaming Bingara and surrounds, hunting down indigenous people as though they were wild game. A group of approximately 35 indigenous people had sought safe haven at Myall Creek Station (a station is the Australian equivalent of a ranch), and were camped beside the station huts.

On 10 June 1838, a gang of stockmen turned up at Myall Creek Station, having travelled from station to station, in a (failed) pursuit of Aboriginal people to kill. After arrival at Myall Creek Station, the indigenous women and children ran into the convict hut, seeking protection.  The stockmen rounded up all the women and children like cattle, bound them and took them to gully where they were hacked and slashed to death; the stockmen returned to the scene two days later to burn the bodies. A convict stockman named Charles Kilmaister, who was employed at Myall Creek Station, joined them in the slaughter. If you have the stomach to read a comprehensive account of what they did, you can read it all here.

The massacre was reported to the authorities and eleven men were arrested and charged with murder. Two trials were conducted; The first on 15 November 1838, and the second on 26 November 1838. The men were acquitted at the first trial, but were convicted of murder at the second trial and seven of the eleven men were sentenced to death by hanging, including Charles Kilmaister.

The Myall Creek Massacre is significant in that the white settlers responsible for the murders were held accountable for their actions, and punished to the full extent of the law. A memorial is erected at the site, and a memorial service is held annually on the anniversary of the massacre.

Post-Federation (1901 onwards)

On 1 January 1901, the Australian Constitution came into effect and united the colonies of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia. The colonies became the states of Australia as we know them today, creating the state-level tier of government. The Australian Constitution at the time, did not recognise indigenous people as citizens, as outlined under Section 127:

“In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be counted.”

 Section 127 of the Australian Constitution (repealed in 1967)

Before 1949, all residents of Australia were British subjects. The Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 created the concept of Australian citizenship, including for indigenous people. Indigenous people also have the right to vote, and have had the right to vote since as far back as 1850s, but many were unaware that they had this right. The 1967 referendum was about including indigenous people in the Commonwealth Census (by repealing Section 127), and amending Section 51. A more detailed explanation is in this SBS article.

Anyway, back on topic. Even after Federation, the wanton violence against the indigenous people continued:

Coniston Massacre (14 August – 18 October, 1928)

Coniston Cattle Station is located in the Northern Territory, near Alice Springs. In or around 1928, the region was crippled by drought, livestock had denuded the land and competition for resources (read: water) was rife among the white settlers, aborigines, livestock and wildlife alike.

The massacre was triggered by the murder of a dingo hunter named Frederick Brooks by an Aboriginal man (other accounts state that it was two) on 7 August, 1928. Accounts vary as to why, but the general consensus is that Brooks was murdered because he had breached Aboriginal marriage laws, or had breached an agreement with the Aboriginal people for domestic tasks carried out for him by Aboriginal women in exchange for food (or both) at his camp at the Yurruku soakage. Meanwhile, there had been complaints of Aborigines spearing cattle in the region, and Constable William Murray, the Protector of Aborigines, was sent to Coniston from Alice Springs to investigate. Upon learning about the Brooks murder, he returned to Alice Springs to seek reinforcements, but his request was declined, and was given instructions to handle the matter on his own, “as he sees fit”.

Murray then mustered a search party to find Brooks’ killer(s), which soon descended into a revenge party. They found an encampment of approximately 20 indigenous people, and Murray opened fire on them after they disobeyed his orders to drop their weapons “In the name of the King” (though their refusal was probably more to do with the fact that they didn’t understand a word of English, rather than an act of defiance). Bullfrog, the Aboriginal man accepted to have been the man responsible for murdering Brooks, hid in a cave with several others, and ultimately they evaded detection.

Meanwhile, another dingo trapper named William “Nugget” Morton was attacked at Boomerang Waterhole by a small group of Aboriginal men. Nugget had already earned himself a sordid reputation among the Aborigines, sexually exploiting Aboriginal women. Nugget survived the attack, and killed one of his assailants defending himself. He reported the incident to Alice Springs Police by letter, and Constable Murray returned in September 1928, mustered another reprisal party and killed more Aborigines around the Lander and Hanson rivers. When returning to Alice Springs to write his report, Murray did not specify the number of deaths; The affected Aboriginal people estimate around 100 deaths.

The Coniston Massacre attracted attention from the British media, and the League of Nations (among other international bodies) had publicly criticised Australia for its handling of the incident. The Federal Government held an inquiry in January 1929, however no Aboriginal witnesses were called, and after 18 days, the inquiry found that only 31 Aborigines were killed by Murray, and all were in self-defence. It further found that there was no drought in central Australia in 1928.

The story of the Coniston Massacre has been adapted to a motion picture.

Where to from here?

Firstly, non-indigenous Australians need to come to terms with Australia’s shameful past. Telling the indigenous people to just “get over it”, is counterproductive. (We don’t tell the descendants of the ANZACs to just “get over it”, do we?) Shaming and guilt-tripping non-indigenous Australians over something that happened before they were born, is also counterproductive. (We don’t shame and guilt-trip Germans for the atrocities committed by the Nazis, do we?) So how can we overcome this without lashing out at each other over it?

That aside, we need know what happened. Their stories need to be told. Most importantly, we need to acknowledge that it happened. We need to remember our history, so that it doesn’t happen again, no matter how dark or embarrassing it is to us now. We cannot change the past. But we can absolutely change our future.

Secondly, January 26, 1788 is the day that started the chain reaction. January 1 is the day that Australia became a Federation, but it is already an existing public holiday (New Years Day), so 2 January might be a gazetted public holiday. No one is going to give up a day off for the world. Maybe 27 May, being the day of the 1967 Referendum which allowed indigenous people to be included in the Commonwealth Census. Still, we need to find another day that’s not going to be a constant reminder to the First Nation people of the bullshit they endured from the “gubbas”.

There have been studies which have suggested that trauma is intergenerational. And in order for us to move forward, we need to break the cycle. The first step towards healing is to acknowledge the wounds. And in order to acknowledge the wounds, we need to know and to understand what happened. We need to make amends. We have already taken a step in the right direction with Kevin Rudd’s sorry speech in Parliament in February 2008.

Imagine our society as a big, embellished blanket. The blanket has been worn, torn and damaged from the abuses of the past. We all sit around the blanket, mending the rips and tears, repairing and replacing the damaged or missing embellishments, and maybe even adding new ones. The end result is a new blanket, stronger and more vibrant than before. And it doesn’t matter for skill, or whether you have a darning needle or a sewing machine – get stitching. We have a lot of healing to do.

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