Enough with the hate.

People are free to worship (or not worship) any supreme being of their choosing. People are also free to not believe in the existence of a supreme being or god. Whatever resonates with them, more power to them.

You can respect, you can criticise to your heart’s content; no one is obliged to agree with you. Hell, people make fun of Scientology, but at the end of the day, Scientologists are free to practise their faith as they choose.

The line is drawn where an individual chooses to use their religion as a weapon to push an agenda, and/or as a shield to absolve themselves from their actions, or to justify same. However, it’s not fair to throw an entire religious demographic under the bus on account of an arbitrary quota of fuckwits within their demographic.

I’m sick to death of people calling for the outlawing of all religions, because that’s just as bad as imposing one. I’ve heard the saying “equal tolerance for all religions, is the same as atheism”.

So when I saw the news unfolding of the white supremacist who opened fire on a mosque in Christchurch on the afternoon of Friday, 15 March 2019, I was horrified at the carnage; At the time of writing this, the death toll was at 49, with another 49 injured. And this is just the latest in a series of attacks upon people practising their faith in a place of worship.

Now, this attack did not occur in a vacuum; we’ve heard the bullshit rhetoric from Senator Pauline Hanson, Senator Fraser “19 Votes” Anning (who made the “Final Solution”remark in his maiden speech in the Senate in 2018) fanning the flames of racism, not to mention the white supremacist groups, far-right extremists and Neo-Nazi groups that have spread their vitriol over the last few years, emboldened by the likes of Hanson and Anning (I recommend going over to the Facebook page Potatriots for the full scoop on those folks).

With these people yelling loud enough for long enough, what did these nitwits think was going to happen? In the Bible, “Do unto others as they would do unto you”. In Wicca, “What you send out, will come back times three”. There’s the saying, “what goes around, comes around”. And there’s even a similar rule in physics: “Any action has an equal and opposite reaction”. It was only a matter of time before some unhinged white supremacist dickhead was going to act on that hate. The last thing we need now is for some unhinged dickhead in the Muslim community (or worse, an Islamic extremist) to use the Christchurch shooting as a Casus Belli for a retaliatory attack.

Enough with the hate. It gets us nowhere.

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Going back to my roots, to my city of birth

Oh, Melbourne. How do I love thee. Let me count the ways…

1 year, 2 years, 3 years…

9 years. That’s how long I have been living in Melbourne, and next February 2019 will mark 10 years as a Melbournian.

After so long, and with some annual leave accrued, it was high time I went back to Sydney, even if for a weekend getaway. So when Therion announced their very first Australian tour, I decided it would be a perfect time. I’ve never followed an international band on an Australian tour before (so Therion and The Devil, be honoured to be my first!), and YOLO, so I made it happen.

Just a note: if you choose to fly Jetstar, just note that punctuality is not their strong point, although they will expect it from you. My flight departed about 45 minutes after it was due, because of issues with the aircraft that needed rectifying and subsequent paperwork signed off. It’s not so bad if you’re not on a tight schedule.

I checked in to my accommodation, and zonked out in the clothes I was wearing on the plane. I spent the morning taking my cat to the cattery, then doing a bit of cleaning around my flat so it won’t stink when I get home, so by the time I arrived in Sydney, checked in and my head hit the pillow, I just wanted to zone out. So Thursday night effectively became a write-off.

Day 1: Friday, 14 September

I began the day with a visit to Utopia Records. First established in 1978, it became my go-to shop for metal music after the Hammerhouse closed its doors in the late 1990s. At the time I moved to Melbourne, Utopia was situated at Broadway, just outside Sydney’s Central Business District. Now it’s at premises on Kent Street, and about one-third the size of the Broadway premises. It still has an excellent range of CDs, vinyl and other merch.

George Street used to have an amusement arcade with arcade games galore, now it’s gone and what looks like a luxury hotel in its place. There’s a light rail line under construction on George Street, Sydney’s equivalent of Bourke Street in Melbourne. Whether it will have a mall section like Bourke Street does, remains to be seen, even though Pitt Street Mall exists (but not as good as Bourke Street mall).

There are lots of places to grab a cappuccino, but I was wary. Will they be of the same standard of coffee in Melbourne? So far, the only coffee shop I think meets the standard is the MLC Grind Cafe in the MLC Centre, and a little cafe near Darling Harbour. Sydney’s cafes seem to have lifted their game (and could it be that their baristas got trained in Melbourne?).

Another long-established shop, Raben Footwear, is still trading. Good to see some of Sydney’s iconic shops have survived this long.

Friday night, Therion played at the Manning Bar, one of my favourite venues when I was still living in Sydney. The last band I saw live at the Manning Bar was Testament in 2007. Here is Therion, in pictures:

And the support act, The Devil:

The Devil turned up near the merch stand after the show for photo opportunities:

And I went for post-show drinks at the Town Hall Hotel in Newtown. At the time I moved to Melbourne, the Townie was going on a downward spiral compared to what it was in the 90s. It was popular with touring musicians, but the pub had changed hands a few times and successive owners tried to attract a different demographic of clientele. Its own mother wouldn’t recognise it now, and the vibe in the place was just flat. Did not resonate.

Day 2: Saturday, 15 September

It was a warm day, perfect for catching up with the parents. I travelled by train to the suburb of Strathfield, and was a good opportunity to compare the Opal smart card ticketing system to Melbourne’s Myki. The fare system is different in Sydney – unlike Melbourne, the system calculates your fare depending on how long your journey is (in distance, not time), which makes it necessary to tap off to ensure you don’t get overcharged. Myki, on the other hand, charges $4.10 for a 2-hour journey, capped at $8.20 per day. Both fare systems have their pros and cons, but the card scanners on the Opal system wipe the floor with Myki (unless there are Opal card scanners somewhere on the transport network that make you go “Opal! Why you no tap on?”).

I spent the afternoon with my father and stepmother in the suburb of Burwood, and as it turns out, my stepmama and I have a few things in common – we love op shopping (and Dad, being Dad, was impatient and chomping at the bit while Theresa browsed the Vinnies op shop), sewing and other stuff. Theresa found some good stuff, while I left the shop empty-handed.

Later, I went to the Goth picnic in Camperdown, and caught up with people whom I haven’t seen since the move to Melbourne, then onward to a benefit gig for the farmers suffering from the drought. The gig had a piss-poor turnout, and the vibe not as vibrant as it once was. The lock-out laws have had an incredibly adverse impact on Sydney’s live scene, compounded by stagnating wages and expensive housing, and the ever-increasing cost of living.

Day 3: Sunday, 16 September

Sunday’s weather was 15°C cooler than Saturday, but the sky was clear and the sun was shining. It was a perfect day for a visit to Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

For a nation that professes to be a “Christian” nation (news flash: Australia is a secular nation), it sure likes to venerate very the pagan gods of old (considering how the worship of the old pagan gods was actively stamped out by the early Catholic Church, sometimes violently), as exhibited by the Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park, and another fountain in the Botanical Gardens:

The pagan gods never went away, and they will always be with us.

Day 4: Monday, 17 September – homeward bound

Although I made the most of my time in Sydney, I could not wait to get home. But I’m never flying Jetstar ever again. (I hear Tiger Airlines are just as shit, so they’re out of the question too. I’ll stick with Virgin or Qantas, even if their fares are an extra $20. Sometimes it’s worth paying that bit extra.)

Will I ever move back to Sydney? Never. Sydney is great to visit, but Melbourne is my home. Having said that, I won’t let it go a long time between drinks again.

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Handmaids Tale Recap – Season 2 (so far)


I’ve been a tad quiet as of late, and that’s because Season 2 of The Handmaids Tale launched in Australia on SBS on Demand on 26 April. And of course, I’ve been tuning in to watch it every Thursday night.

Episode 9 is freshly launched and holy fuckballs, going by everything that has happened in this episode, Gilead ought to brace itself for a hammering.

And here’s the promo for Episode 10:



Episode 9 saw Commander Fred Waterford and his wife, Serena Joy, go on a “diplomatic mission” to Canada. In the wake of Ofglen’s suicide bomb attack on the new Rachel & Leah Centre (colloquially known in Gilead as “The Red Centre”), Waterford is using the incident as leverage to round up what he calls “illegal immigrants” (which are really displaced American refugees who fled Gilead and were granted asylum in Canada), to be returned to Gilead. And, of course, Canada doesn’t want to upset its neighbours.

From the Commander’s first meeting with the Canadian officials, there was an undercurrent of hostility. When the immigration minister says that he and his husband (with his emphasis on the word “husband”) were fond of the United States and travelled there often. Commander Waterford then mentions Gilead’s plans on rekindling the tourism industry and invited the minister to visit again soon, but the immigration minister says coldly, “If we are welcome”, implying to the Commander that he is aware of how Gilead views and treats LGBTI people and how he feels about it. Behind a mask of professionalism, was a whiff of passive-aggression. Yeah, Gilead hates gays, and the immigration minister knows it.

Waterford was insistent on bringing Serena Joy with him so he could parade her around like some goddamn trophy wife, to “show Canada a strong Gilead wife” in Waterford’s words. This decision is probably one that may eventually backfire on Commander Waterford, as we saw from Serena’s reactions when she saw the people going about their day-to-day lives in Toronto. The cracks in her facade really began to show upon seeing Luke Bankole, Offred/June’s husband, confront Commander Waterford, all the while clutching an enlarged family photograph of himself with June and their daughter Hannah. The first seeds were planted for Serena when she was approached by a representative of the American Government (“Which American Government?” she quipped in response), who then began to dangle the proverbial carrot in front of her nose, offering her a book deal for a memoir as a Commander’s wife in Gilead, the packet of cigarettes, that she has a very real possibility of having a child of her own and be free, while hammering home that the fertility crisis that Gilead was so up in arms about wasn’t the problem of female fertility, but male fertility. The last seeds were planted in Serena’s mind when Moira approached the Waterfords’ homeward bound motorcade, thumping her fist against the window and holding up a sign that read “MY NAME IS MOIRA”, and locking eye contact with Serena Joy. Serena was visibly uncomfortable, while Commander Waterford tried his best to pretend nothing was happening.

I’ve seen other reviews of this episode prior to typing this. There’s a few comments and reviews criticising O.T. Fagbenle’s performance in portraying Luke. A lot of the criticisms were based around Luke not being aggressive enough when he confronted Waterford, that he didn’t seem overly concerned with June etc, blah blah blah.

Luke is no doubt dealing with PTSD, survivor’s guilt and all that other nasty stuff that refugees have to deal with after experiencing that kind of trauma. He is dealing with a maelstrom of emotions, and having to live with the prospect that he might not ever see June and/or Hannah again. With the scene at the arrival of the Waterfords’ motorcade at the hotel, there were protesters outside the foyer –  a good portion of those protesters were refugees who had fled Gilead. Luke, although he had the courage to confront Waterford and also yell, “You raped my wife!” to his face (only for Waterford to brush it off as fake news), he also knew he had to exercise restraint.

If Luke was alone in a room with Commander Waterford, it would be fair to say that Luke would beat the living daylights out of Waterford for his hand in the creation of Gilead and its impact on Luke’s family and the people he cares about. If Luke had planted a punch in Waterford’s noggin, it wouldn’t augur well for Luke. He would likely have been arrested and, because at that point in time the Canadian authorities were brushing off the atrocities in Gilead as hearsay, there was a risk of Luke being refouled to Gilead. Fortunately for Luke, he was restrained by the guards before he could do anything. His initial reaction to Nick was equally understandable, though he was wise enough to back off from shoving Nick around and cool his head before things escalated. It paid off, with Nick handing him the bundle of letters and learning that June was alive – and asking Nick to deliver a message to June, that he is alive and Moira made it to Canada.

With all the Mayday letters now digitised and uploaded into cyberspace for the world, Gilead could no longer hide their insidious ways from the rest of the world, let alone Canadian authorities – it was not mentioned explicitly in this episode, but they would have known that if they returned the displaced American refugees to Gilead, it would constitute refoulement (and would consequently receive condemnation from the rest of the world, and indeed from the UN, assuming it still exists in this universe).

From Offred’s conversations with Aunt Lydia and Rita, and Serena’s reactions, I’m going to speculate unrest will brew. Aunt Lydia opened up to Offred about being a godmother to her nephew, who then died aged 4 days, which Aunt Lydia then says “It’s not my fault”.  All the events in the book are based on real events that have happened at some point in human history. If we do see a revolt against the ruling class in Gilead, I’m willing to bet that it would be led by the women, and Serena Joy, the Marthas, some of the aunts, and certainly the handmaids will be on board – and the idea won’t be too far fetched, as women have led revolts and rebellions throughout the course of human history.


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Witching on a budget (because walking the pagan path shouldn’t cost you the earth)

Yup, I’ve walked that path: discovered Wicca (then the other new agey/occult paths shortly after), and wanting MORE. But, I was a mere teenager at the time, and earning diddly-squat from a dead-end weekend job. And no doubt, there are probably several teenagers reading this and nodding their heads, saying “yup! That’s me right now!”

In my 25+ years as a practising Wiccan, as I was first starting out, a lot of stuff was out of reach, mostly because of cost. When shopping for magickal items, it’s generally not good practice to haggle over price. If, however, the merchant makes an offer to discount the total price for X number of items you’ve been expressing interest in, chances are those items have probably been hanging around in the merchant’s store for an extended period of time and s/he wants to be rid of it to make way for fresh stock. I have acquired god/goddess statuettes and books in this fashion that I otherwise would not have. These days, many Australian merchants have AfterPay as an option. Back in my teenage years, the lay-by system was widely used, wherein you present the items you want to buy, pay a deposit (which was usually around 25% of the total) and you received your goods upon payment of the balance. How times have changed, huh?

For the teenage Wiccans who have just discovered their path, they’re probably aghast at the prices of some ritual items that tickled their fancy. First things first, ritual tools are not necessary for ritual working, but if they help your focus, then by all means use them. Do what works for YOU. So having said that, let’s look at the different tools and how to obtain them on a budget:

Athame – an athame is a ceremonial blade with a black handle. It is used for casting circle and can also be used when performing the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.

A letter opener works just as well as any athame you’d find in a New Age store. You can find them in gift shops, discount variety stores or stationery supplies stores, garage sales, op shops and online. It doesn’t matter if the handle isn’t black, grab some black paint or black ribbon and paint or wind the ribbon around the handle. I recommend the ribbon, as it will make the handle softer to the touch and provide a more comfortable grip.

Chalice – Not necessarily a tool, but a symbol of the Goddess and symbolic for the element of water.

In my experience, the best place to find a fancy chalice is in op shops and at garage sales.

I found this chalice at an op shop in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield in the late 1990s and it still serves me well.

Wand – We don’t use them for waving about and chanting Wingardium Leviosa! like the students of Hogwarts did in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but I don’t think that’s ever stopped anyone from uttering those words in jest for some pre-ritual shenanigans (The word “muggle” has even entered our lexicon to describe non-pagan/magickal folk, away from the more formal word “cowan”, which Gardner yoinked from the Freemasons).

Wands can be used in the same fashion as an athame, and the choice of wood used in a wand has a specific magickal purpose. This link here has more information. In ceremonial magick, the double wand of power is a basic wand, with one end painted white and the other end black. The white end is for invoking, the black end for banishing.

Double Wand of Power

Wands are relatively easy to make. Next time you go for a wander in the park, identify which trees are situated in that park (in Melbourne, for instance, there are many public parks with oak trees). Look for a stick that has fallen on the ground – the right one will catch your eye. Then you can use it to make your wand, and decorate it if you so desire.

Censer – used to hold charcoal for burning incense. A proper brass censer like this one can be well out of reach of a teen pagan’s budget…

A small ceramic bowl with sand or river pebbles will work. The sand/river pebbles help insulate the bowl against the heat of the charcoal. You can also use a censer to burn incense cones. The Heritage range of Chris’ Dips are sold in little terra cotta pots, so if you or your parents are shopping for party snacks, get one (or convince your parents to buy one) and you’ll have a yummy dip and once it’s all been devoured, a censer to burn incense!

Magickal incense can be pricey, as are the charcoal discs that you burn it on. Middle Eastern grocery stores are excellent for charcoal discs (they are designed for hookahs so they will burn well).

Incense – the best magickal incenses are the ones made by your own hand. You can obtain a mortar and pestle from Kmart or Target in their homewares section. Magickal herbs etc you can find in your own kitchen. If you want your own stash, you can obtain most herbs for magickal purposes from a supermarket or specialty grocery stores. Health food shops will stock herbs used in herbal tea, remedies etc.

Mojo bags – A mojo bag is a little pouch containing items for a specific magickal purpose. Cloth and string are readily available at craft stores and fabric shops such as Lincraft and Spotlight. Search through the remnants bucket for fabric for your mojo bag, and embroidery/tapestry thread to bind.

Candles and candle holders – Candelabra and single candle holders are available from gift shops, discount variety stores and op shops. Dinner candles can be found anywhere and are just as effective. Hell, you can even use birthday candles if that’s all there is at hand!

Storage – If you live with parents who are antagonistic towards your path, make sure you have somewhere to stash your tools, hidden away from prying, disapproving eyes.

I was one such teenager whose path was met with parental disapproval, so I practised in secret, and after I moved out of home I didn’t have to be so secretive. I had my tools wrapped in cloth and stashed in a bedside drawer underneath my underwear, nowadays they are stored on a shelf under my altar, which is currently situated in my living room. And my parents have since stopped giving a shit about my path and just let me be.

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My Magickal Path

Featured image: Me. Photo by Michael Warshall Picturemaker

I’ve been pagan for as long as I can remember. Although I wasn’t raised within a strict religious household, during my school years I was put into scripture classes (back in the mid-80s, where the idea of non-religious people was considered heretical, and everyone MUST be shuttled into a scripture class) and I learned about the tenets of Christianity. All the biblical stories, though they made for good storytelling, weren’t my cup of tea. I was a bit miffed at the lack of female protagonists in any of the biblical tales, and pretty much called bullshit on the Immaculate Conception.

Who is old enough to remember the Golden Circle encyclopaedias? Yeah, my brother and I had a full set of those encyclopaedias, and I went straight to “M” and looked up myths and legends. My 7-year-old self was excited to discover that before the advent of Christianity, people worshipped goddesses as well as gods. I read about the Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Celtic gods and goddesses, and at the end of the piece I wondered, “How come people don’t worship these gods any more?”

Fast forward to 1993, and I found my answer. I met a practitioner of Wicca, and wanted to know more. I asked, and my questions were answered – Nobody ever stopped worshipping the gods and goddesses of old. They just went into hiding. Then in 1995, a New Age bookstore opened in my home suburb in western Sydney, and I was able to get my hands on a few books on Wicca to learn more about it. I bought the book Wicca: The Old Religion for a New Millenium by Vivianne Crowley, and from that moment I knew I had found my path. My classmates insisted that I was a “devil-worshipper” (news flash – there’s no devil in Wicca), and although I tried to explain to them that that’s not what Wicca is, they wouldn’t listen, so I stopped wasting my time with trying to correct them and let them continue to bask in their own ignorance.

Throughout the time I lived in Sydney, I was aware of Aleister Crowley and his works, but at the time, his works were difficult to find. The Internet wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now, online shopping hadn’t really taken off yet, and new age stores willing to stock Crowley’s and other like works were few and far between, and even if I did find it, it cost an arm and a leg. It was easier to get hold of a copy of The Satanic Bible by Anton La Vey, and I was able to land a copy of it in 2000. That book was an eye-opener. I am aware of some accusations of plagiarism on La Vey’s part, but this is not the time or the place to discuss this. This article (link) is a better place for it. Even today, I have a lot of respect for Satanists, even moreso than some Christians.

It wasn’t until I moved to Melbourne, that I was able to get hold of some more in-depth books and get some more hands-on experience in the magickal arts. Before then, there weren’t many ceremonial magicians around in Sydney, and if there were, they kept their existence a tightly-kept secret. They were as elusive as those Crowley books.

As far as experiences in the supernatural, probably my first was when I was about five or six years old. I was sitting in the lounge room with my brother, and I noticed my brother’s toy tanker truck behind the home bar (it was technically a bar for keeping alcohol, but wasn’t being used for anything at the time), which seemed to have been pulled behind the bar. I thought that it was my brother behind the bar, but he was in the room in plain sight. I saw it disappear behind the bar and it freaked me out, so much that I ran into my parents’ bedroom and jumped onto the bed while they were sleeping. I looked over my shoulder towards the open door, and saw a shadowy figure move down the hallway. We moved out of that house a couple of years after, and didn’t have any other experiences with the supernatural up until my move to Melbourne.

After being initiated into a ceremonial magick order at the end of 2009, things really began to get interesting. I would occasionally be woken up between the hours of 2am and 4am, and I would sense a spirit standing in the bedroom doorway. Once I felt the presence of two spirits that appeared in the image of an Indian couple, and at the time there were Indian students living next door. There was nothing threatening or malicious about these spirits, but they sure startled me by turning up in my flat and waking me up at that hour of the morning! I asked them to leave, and they left almost immediately. They haven’t been back since, so it could be possible that they were ancestral spirits of my then-neighbours.

When I travelled to Germany, Belgium, Norway and Sweden in October/November 2011, I was expecting at least one supernatural experience, given the rich history of Europe generally. I spent three days in Berlin, and during that time I visited the Berlin Wall Monument. I later spotted a cemetery behind the monument, which was bigger but part of it had been moved to accommodate the Berlin Wall and the subsequent monument built in its place. I went for a little stroll through the cemetery, inspecting all the graves and family mausoleums. Some time had passed and I checked the time on my phone. It was in 24-hour time and I misread the time 13:00 as 3pm, and I wanted to get to an army surplus store before it shut. As I was bundling my camera back into its carry bag, I felt something pull at my hand, like a child’s hand pulling at my hand. I was the only one in the cemetery, and that moment I was like, “Nope!” and hurried out. Whatever was there was sad to see me go, but afterwards I checked the time again and had my “D’oh!” moment when I realised it was earlier than I first thought.

And my life with the spirits… well, my experiences are probably nowhere near as exciting as Lon Milo DuQuette’s adventures in his memoir My Life with the Spirits: The Adventures of a Modern Magician – but then, I’m much younger than DuQuette so there’s probably more adventures for me to come.

The most memorable experience I have had so far, was in 2010 at a invocation/evocation workshop at the Esoteric Bookshop, when their shop was based in Murrumbeena. On that particular evening, I was scheduled to interview Erik Danielsson from Watain for Metal Obsession (the resulting interview can be viewed here), but there was time for summoning an angel or other spirit that David, the workshop organiser, had planned on beforehand. We started with the usual pre-summoning rituals, and a guided meditation to get “in the zone”. Once we got into that meditation, I saw a vision of clouds. Then, I saw a group of dragons, one red dragon. The red dragon saw me, winked at me, then scooted away!

When it was time for a summoning, David asked, “What spirit shall we summon?” before choosing an angel, purely because its sigil was easy to draw. He uttered the words of power, while we all sat in a meditative state, to see if any one of us can pick up on anything. David asked, “Is anybody seeing anything?” Then I saw what looked like black wings, like that of a crane, and a voice asked me, “So, you’re interviewing this chap from Watain?” I asked it to show me his seal, and I saw the impression and blurted out, “It’s Naberius!” I snatched the book off the table, and another in the group drew an outline of the sigil she saw, and I pointed at it and said, “Yes! That’s Naberius!” David appeared to get quite stroppy that I was able to identify a spirit so quickly, so I flicked through the book and found the entry with Naberius’ description and sigil in it, pointing it out, while the other person in the group confirmed that it was Naberius’ sigil that she saw. David then said, “It wasn’t the spirit that we wanted to contact so we need to dismiss him.” He gave Naberius the Licence to Depart and went on to choose another spirit as though nothing ever happened.

My first attempt at an invocation at home was largely uneventful. I chose to invoke the Olympic Planetary Spirit Hagith. It was a few weeks after the events at the Esoteric Bookshop. I was successful in contacting Hagith – the first thing Hagith said was, “Turn out the lights! Turn off the heater!” Spirits don’t like electromagnetic emissions from electrical appliances, so it doesn’t hurt to switch off appliances that don’t need to be on. If you’re a ceremonial magician and you ever experience a power outage in your area, that’s an optimum time to get your magick on.

To be continued…


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Another voice in the #Metoo chorus

The hashtag #Metoo is trending on Twitter and Facebook, with rape and harassment survivors sharing their stories of what they endured.

Most of my friends probably believe that I’ve been lucky enough not to experience any of this.

Well, they’re wrong. Here’s my story. The first time I experienced an assault was when I was around 8 years old. I was travelling on the bus from school to an after-school day care centre, and it was just me and my brother on the bus. Every day, two male students who were probably in their early teens at the time, would board from the same bus stop near the municipal swimming pool every day. I thought nothing of it for a long time. One afternoon, after they had boarded, one of them sat next to me, threw one arm holding my in a headlock while shoving the other hand down my school shirt. I cried out for the bus driver to help, but he ignored me, continuing to drive as though nothing happened. I was eventually able to wrench myself free and ran to the empty seat directly behind the driver. I was too scared and ashamed to tell anyone at the time, firstly because I was convinced no one would believe me, secondly because I was convinced I’d get scolded and get accused of doing something to provoke them. Staring out the window, daydreaming and brainstorming for short story writing (yes, I was honing my craft as a writer, even back then). The bus driver probably wasn’t prepared to back me up either. I was on my own.

It was almost as bad when I hit puberty. I was in my final year of primary school (that’s elementary school for you American folks) and I had to start wearing a bra. I was hounded to the far corners and hiding in the girls’ toilets to get away from the arsehole boys who were doing the taunting and teasing. The teachers did sweet fuck-all to address the problem. They probably dismissed their behaviour as “boys will be boys”. I won’t be in the least surprised if any of those arseholes now have a criminal record.

When I was 18, I was in a short-lived relationship. It quickly descended into a maelstrom of belittling from my now-ex boyfriend, then onward to him dictating to me what I should wear, how I should act. You can see where this is going. One night, he woke me up by flopping his dick out and poking me in the back with it, saying “Oi. Wake up. Get naked.” He woke me from a deep sleep, but I was just too tired and rolled over. He threw a tantrum that would make a toddler look mature in comparison, but I rolled over. Next thing I remember, was one side of my face planted in the pillow, being on all fours with my pajama pants around my knees. One month later, he was out of my life, or so I thought. When I was 25, he saw me at a gothic nightclub and went over and got all chatty as though we were cool. I verbally ripped him to shreds, and confronted him about his behaviour during our short time together. The best he could say was, “Oh. I’m so sorry, I thought you wanted it.” Yeah, because someone who has just woken up has the capacity to consent? Get the fuck out of here.

Chances are the ex in question has probably seen the errors of his ways. I have severed ties and moved on, but even as late as 2007 he thought that anything between us was salvageable. There is no hope of salvaging even a friendship. The best he can do is acknowledge what he did was wrong and move on, like this guy:

There’s a Facebook post of a man who has been to the dark side and back, and is prepared to call out other men who behave like arseholes towards women.

I’ll sign off with this article from Shariq Rafeek. Let’s stop defending the arseholes and calling them out for their shitty behaviour. “Boys will be boys” is a relic of the past, let’s keep it there.

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5 Reasons Gene Simmons’ application to trademark the “metal horns” hand sign is bullshit

As you may no doubt have heard, KISS bassist Gene Simmons has lodged a trademark application for the Metal Horns hand gesture.

Good luck with that, mate. The “metal horns” hand gesture has been around far longer than Simmons himself has been in adulthood, and will continue long after he has shuffled loose the mortal coil. Before metal even existed, the metal horns held an entirely different meaning.

#1. The “metal horns” gesture is the gesture of the Horned God in Wicca

Cernunnos is the Celtic horned god, the equivalent of the Greek god Pan, and is the Horned God in Wicca:


The sign of the horns is the gesture of the Horned God in Wicca (refer to Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham, p. 42).

As an aside, here’s the Church of Satan founder Anton La Vey throwing the horns:

La Vey Horns

It should be noted that Wicca was founded in 1954 by Gerald Gardner and the Church of Satan was founded in San Francisco, United States on 30 April 1966, putting Simmons at age 5 at the time Wicca was founded, and age 16 when the Church of Satan was founded.

#2. The horns hand sign was/is used in Italian and other folklore to ward off the evil eye

In the documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, Ronnie James Dio stated that his use of the horns on stage came from seeing his Italian grandmother use it, and explained that it was used to ward off malocchio (Evil Eye).

#3. The first known use of the horns gesture in rock/metal was by the band Coven

Here’s the cover artwork for Coven’s 1969 album, Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls:



The Beatles threw up the horns on the cover of the album Yellow Submarine, but they’re essentially a pop band, so I’m ignoring them. In any event, here’s a promo shot for that album:


Sorry Gene, you can’t claim that you used it first.

#4 Ronnie James Dio popularised the metal horns

Ronnie James Dio

Now you do.

Dio began using the sign of the horns shortly after joining Black Sabbath in 1979.

#5. The horns gesture means “I love you” in American sign language


So with all due respect Mr Simmons, take your trademark application and shove it where the sun don’t shine. While we’re on the subject of hand gestures, I salute you while I chug down this sweet, sweet caffeinated beverage:


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