an afterlife

June 7, 2020

Some people believe in an afterlife. I do not; what I say will be based on the assumption that death is nothing, and final. I believe there is little to be said for it: it is a great curse, and if we truly face it nothing can make it palatable except the knowledge that by dying we can prevent an even greater evil. Otherwise, given the simple choice between living for another week and dying in five minutes I would always choose to live for another week; and by a version of mathematical induction I conclude that I would be glad to live forever.

Thomas Nagel
The View from Nowhere

the homage of witches

October 29, 2019

A hag emerged from the forest. She was crook-backed and her head was poked forward, predatory, withered, and almost hairless, like a vulture’s.

“Here we are at last,” grated the hag, in a vulture’s voice.

She came closer, and cranked herself down on her knees, and bowed her face into the turf and the colourless flowers.

Bianca sat and gazed at her. The hag lifted herself. Her teeth were yellow palings.

“I bring you the homage of witches, and three gifts,” said the hag.

“Why should you do that?”

“Such a quick child, and only fourteen years. Why? Because we fear you. I bring you gifts to curry favour.”

Bianca laughed. “Show me.”

The hag made a pass in the green air. She held a silken cord worked curiously with plaited human hair.

“Here is a girdle which will protect you from the devices of priests, from crucifix and chalice and the accursed holy water. In it are knotted the tresses of a virgin, and of a woman no better than she should be, and of a woman dead. And here— ” a second pass and a comb was in her hand, lacquered blue over green— “a comb from the deep sea, a mermaid’s trinket, to charm and subdue. Part your locks with this, and the scent of ocean will fill men’s nostrils and the rhythm of the tides their ears, the tides that bind men like chains. Last,” added the hag, “that old symbol of wickedness, the scarlet fruit of Eve, the apple red as blood. Bite, and the understanding of sin, which the serpent boasted of, will be made known to you.” And the hag made her last pass in the air and extended the apple, with the girdle and the comb, toward Bianca.

Bianca glanced at them.

“I like her gifts, but I do not quite trust her.”

“All the same,” said Bianca. “I will let her tie the girdle on me, and comb my hair herself.”

The hag obeyed, simpering. Like a toad she waddled to Bianca. She tied on the girdle. She parted the ebony hair. Sparks sizzled, white from the girdle, peacock’s eye from the comb.

“And now, hag, take a little bite of the apple.”

“It will be my pride,” said the hag, “to tell my sisters I shared this fruit with you.” And the hag bit into the apple, and mumbled the bite noisily, and swallowed, smacking her lips.

Then Bianca took the apple and bit into it.

Bianca screamed — and choked.

She jumped to her feet. Her hair whirled about her like a storm cloud. Her face turned blue, then slate, then white again. She lay on the pallid flowers, neither stirring nor breathing.

Tanith Lee
Red as Blood

required to do wrong

May 25, 2019

You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.

Philip K. Dick
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

might hex you

December 16, 2017

The children on the playground all heard her. They took off running together, as far away as possible from Antonia Owens, who might hex you if you did her wrong, and from her aunts, who might boil up garden toads and slip them into your stew, and from her mother, who was so angry and protective she might just freeze you in time, ensuring that you were forever trapped on the green grass at the age of ten or eleven.

Alice Hoffman
Practical Magic

The Witch curse

July 22, 2017

A few years ago a lady who was walking through the market square at Tavistock saw an old woman pilfering small articles from the stalls. She called the attention of one of the sellers to this, whereupon the hag swiftly turning round asked “With which eye did you see this?” “With both my eyes,” was the reply. The old woman muttered quickly to herself, and added aloud: “For meddling with what does not concern you, by this and that you shall see no more.” So saying she waved her hand swiftly across the lady’s face, not touching her, and hobbled away. Within an hour the lady lost her sight, and blind she remained until the day she died, which was in 1931.

Montague Summers
A Popular History of Witchcraft

August 26, 2016

cellphone and witch


Things needed:

• a poppet to represent the abuser
• A jar
• Enough lemon juice to fill that jar
• A needle
• A string tied to a weight (like a rock)

Take the poppet and stab it with the needle where ever you want them to hurt. If you want, stab the poppet where the abuser hurt you. Chant the following:

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. A punch for a punch, a curse for your words

Then tie the weight to the poppet. Continue the chant:

You are weighed down for the sins you have committed against me. You cannot break free.

Throw the poppet into the jar of lemon juice. Finish the curse:

You drown in the consequences of what you have done. Acid seeps into your every bone and eats away at you. There is no way out, you have no escape. You are sealed to your toxic fate.

Close and seal the jar.

Source: The Witches Curse Book


The nature of evil*…

April 11, 2015


He called himself Achelous but his birth name was Albert Sidney Davidson. At an early age (so he frequently claimed) he’d become aware of a great power within himself. He was a mágos, a natural magician.

Whatever the truth of his claims, he was the one human being I’ve encountered, that I would truly describe as evil – and that with a capital E!

He was in his early-twenties when I first encountered him. A skinny nothing of a bloke with untidy blonde hair, heavy cheekbones and sunken cheeks – looked a little like he was recovering from some illness, or suffered from anorexia. But it was his eyes everyone noticed, mostly – almost neon blue, they were, and restless as hell; those eyes seemed to look inside you – look through you, and into another dimension.

There were a lot of stories circulating about him back in the day. Most were probably fiction, the rest exaggerated versions of tales he’d put out about himself. He was a great self-publicist, if nothing else.

One thing was true, however, he’d never done a day’s work in his life. He claimed no benefits, and he owned a house in Ruislip which had been paid for by his “disciples”. He regularly held Satanic orgies in that house, emulating his long dead and buried hero – Aleister Crowley.

I know he’d been mixed up with Mrs Gee in his late teens, and she, sensible woman, had recognised him as a potentially very dangerous, very destructive force. Consequently she’d eased him from her circle, helping him in the process develop his own coven.

At age fourteen, it was claimed, he’d had his form mistress perform fellatio on him in front of select school friends…Only friends is the wrong description: he had no friends, only toadies who rushed to do his bidding. Without exception, everyone feared him – including those adults who (usually inadvertently) crossed his path. His form mistress was scared to death of him, and would do absolutely anything to keep him happy.

He boasted he’d had sex with loads of girls and woman. And he once explained that as his ‘power’ grew inside himself, he totally subjugated his mother and sister to his will, forcing them, ultimately, to prostitute themselves for his benefit.

Kenny Bee once witnessed young Albert Sidney offering his mother’s sexual favours to other boys from his school. Four or five of them accompanied her to a bedroom in the family home, while Albert remained in the living room eating grapes and boasting about his many conquests to the few kids remaining with him. Ken wanted to leave – hell, he hadn’t wanted to be there in the first place. But Albert Sidney wasn’t someone you said “No” to easily.

He told Kenny and the others, that when he’d been called to the head’s study the previous week for some misdemeanor or other, he’d lost his temper and put a curse on the man’s wife. The head, incensed, had told Albert Sidney he was out – excluded. Finished…

‘He soon changed his mind,’ Albert said. He casually spat grape seeds on the carpet; his mum would clean-up later.

‘Why?’ one of his audience asked.

‘I showed him “beyond”,’ Albert said, and laughed. ‘The old git peed himself standing right there in the office. He was so scared he had a fit – blacked out…Honest. His secretary had to call an ambulance. Which is why I’m still in the school.’

The boys had all heard the general outline of the incident: the headmaster suffering a seizure while with Albert. But this was the first they’d heard of Albert’s part in the man’s sudden collapse.

‘What’s “beyond”?’ someone ventured to ask.

‘Believe me,’ he replied. ‘You really don’t want to know that!’

I was in the Haverlock public house with Kenny Bee one Saturday afternoon, when Albert Sidney showed up. It was our first meeting. I’d heard all the stories about him, (he’d become something of an infamous local legend, and had been nicknamed Mr Death by those in the know), but I wasn’t particularly impressed by him, I have to say. Kenny introduced us, and Albert/ Achelous quoted Crowley at one point:

‘“Some men are born sodomites, some achieve sodomy, and some have sodomy thrust upon them…”’

I can’t now recall the context of this statement: I was, in truth, a tad pissed at that point. I do clearly remember him telling me that at nine years of age he (accidentally) encountered a daemon – the result of a magical invocation.

At age nine? Really?

He had a mad old great Aunt, apparently, who bequeathed him her collection of books, many of which covered such subjects as invocation, and pacts with Satan. She, he explained, was a practicing Satanist. It was, apparently, a family thing.

‘On my father’s side,’ he said. His father had died when he was a boy, but Albert claimed his grandmother was a practicing witch, and she’d danced naked round his cradle muttering spells of power after his birth.

I didn’t pay a lot of attention to his tales. I knew he earned substantial sums of money from women, who, like his mother and sister, exchanged sex for cash and passed that money on to him. I saw him, I guess, as a cunning parasite. A pimp. He preyed on the weak, the vulnerable and the susceptible.

It was perhaps a year or so after that first meeting, the business of Christopher R came to light. Christopher was a friend of Daniel S and myself. He was a bit of an odd-bod. Scruffy. Wore good suits, but with tee-shirts and trainers. Often instead of a belt, he’d thread bailing twine round his waist to hold his trousers up. His hair was reddish, curly, and unruly – always looked in need of a good wash. Eccentric, reasonably well-off, he was a nice enough guy. Very friendly, if a tad naïve.

The three of us originally came together at the Model Engineering Exhibition at Wembley where I’d been running a stall. Daniel S had introduced Chris to me. We were all military collectors or enthusiasts – and in Christopher’s case, a wargamer with a huge selection of model soldiers and armoured fighting vehicles.

Over the next few years I often encountered Christopher. At exhibitions, shows, at a British Model Soldier Society convention. Then without word of warning he disappeared from view. No one knew what had become of him.

I simply shrugged, and decided he must have moved away – he’d once talked about ‘relatives in the north.’

Then, out of the blue, maybe a year or more later, I was working in the St Annes Road shop, when I heard Art saying, ‘Haven’t seen you around for an age. Wondered why…Now we know.’

Looking over I saw he was talking to a tall, fairly smart woman. It was only when the woman turned round, and I saw her face that my jaw dropped. It was Christopher…Only now he was Christine…And Christine, unfortunately, had a rather butch, masculine, lived-in face, despite all the make-up and cosmetic-work.

‘I had a full sex change,’ he/she told me later. We were sitting together in the Gateway pub with drinks. ‘I had it done in Morocco. Couldn’t get it done here. Have to jump through too many damn hoops.’

‘I had no idea,’ I said. ‘Gender reassignment…I just didn’t see you as part of that scene. Have you always felt yourself a woman, then?’

‘No, not at all. I’ve always felt I’m a bloke. Still fancy women, too.’

‘Then, bloody hell, why?’

The story Christine told was complex and almost beyond belief. One evening Daniel S had invited Chris to dinner with Mrs Gee and himself. Dan had been boasting about his accomplishments as a member of the local coven. Health, wealth, and happiness. But then Mrs Gee had suggested Chris become involved with Albert/ Achelous and his band of merry deviates. She’d provide the necessary introductions.

In time this meeting occurred, and Chris fell deeply under the influence of Achelous. Some months later, with little or no prior warning, Albert/ Achelous told Chris that during a recent invocation he’d experienced a vision. Christopher must be transformed – into Christine.

Chris objected. Who wouldn’t?

But Albert/ Achelous didn’t handle rejection well. He put the fear of hell into Chris…Showed him, or at least gave him a hint of, “beyond” – which, apparently, reduced Chris to a quivering wreck for some days.

‘He’s killed people, you know,’ Christine/ Chris told me. ‘Not himself, directly, but through ritual and suggestion. I’ve witnessed what he’s capable of – and it defies bloody description! He’s insane and dangerous.’

So Chris caved-in, gave his consent, went on an all expenses paid holiday to Morocco. There he remained undergoing hormone treatment, and finally an operation that terminated Chris but gave Christine her new life.

‘And now your back here,’ I said.

‘Yeah. Achelous wanted me back to marry this Woodham bloke.’

‘What Woodham bloke?’

‘Apparently Mr Woodham was originally a big financial sponsor of Achelous,’ Christine said. ‘But then he fell out with him. Called him a fraud. Well, what I understand is Achelous put him straight…And now he’s rejoined the fold, so to speak. But Achelous insisted he marry me…It’s a punishment, of course it is, I know that. This bloke’s single, but likes the women. That’s why he ended up a disciple in the first place. But he’s got to marry a man…Or a woman that was a man…Still looks like a man, I know. It’s to teach him a bloody lesson.’

I found this hard to take in. Albert had used fear to force a man, Christopher into a sex change operation. And had then used that same supernatural fear to force another man, Woodham (a solicitor as it turned out), to marry Christine / Christopher for better or for worse.

Incredible. Absolutely effin’ incredible.

Well, strange to relate, Christine took up military collecting and wargaming once again. Although her marriage wasn’t the most successful.

‘The sex thing is terrible,’ she confided to me once. ‘I can’t bear it…’

From what little I understood, I’m not sure her husband was that keen on it either! Not with her. He much preferred it when she was painting her Airfix Sherman tanks, and he could go off visiting local prostitutes who, while not great beauties, were “real women”.

However, the following year, I introduced Christine to Nikki M, a very feminine-looking lesbian living in Eastcote. They were off a similar age and got on well. The relationship between them blossomed over time. A situation no doubt greatly assisted by Achelous’ sudden and unexpected relocation to the south of France later that Autumn – this just a few steps ahead of the law, who wanted to interviewing him regarding allegations of living off immoral earnings and running a brothel…Or so it was rumoured.

I heard no more of our Achelous for a couple of years. Then I was told he’d turned up in Florida, over in the States; apparently he’d become involved in property development, and, of course, black magic. Dabbling in the black arts, after all, was what he did best. I was told he was very successful over there.

Later Achelous’ name became linked to that of an aging Hollywood starlet. She was twice his age and thoroughly besotted by him. I suspected at the time that her wealth was the biggest attraction for him. I’m certain he would gradually bleed her dry.

Achelous’ eventually left the states under a bit of a cloud. His name was linked to the forging of a will. One of his followers had recently died (of natural causes), and this man’s family discovered to their great surprise and consternation, that a new will had been drawn up shortly before the death, naming Achelous as sole beneficiary. The man’s family immediately contested the will. Experts later declared the document a forgery…But, of course, Achelous knew nothing of this. He buggered off to Mexico.

The last time I saw Achelous was three years ago in Marrakesh. It was a chance encounter on the open space of Jemaa el Fna at dusk where magicians, snake charmers and tooth pullers entertain the growing crowds. I was hot and tired after a long day exploring the medina with its endless narrow alleyways and insistent street sellers. I had decided to make my way over to the café du Grand Balcon. You could look out from the terrace there, across the square with its promenading crowds, musicians and storytellers. It was then that I saw him.

It was his eyes, I noted as I turned…I saw momentary recognition in them as they met mine. He looked ill, his face sunken and yellow tinged. Jaundiced. He was painfully thin, his body swamped by a baggy white shirt, open at the neck.

At first I’d though he was not going to acknowledge me, but then he did. ‘Well, well.’ His voice was an old man’s, lacking in power. ‘What a small world.’

Achelous was accompanied by two young men, Americans, who stood either side of him, lean and mean-looking. He didn’t bother to introduce me. I asked him how he was doing.

‘Yeah, very well. I’m into property speculation…there’s a building boom going on here. Fortunes to be made.’ He nodded his head repeatedly as he spoke. He looked off over my shoulder as if catching sight of someone else he knew, then his eyes became vague. ‘Good to see you,’ he said without conviction. ‘Holidaying here?’


‘I must be on my way.’ His voice was so weak I could hardly hear what he said. And at that moment I sensed the shadow of death hanging over him; he knew it too, I realised. This was a dying man with very little time left to him.

‘Your sister’s doing well,’ I said quickly. ‘She had lots of therapy and has readjusted to life. I think she’s come to terms with everything that happened, and forgiven herself…’ Herself but never him. He’d used her mercilessly, unnaturally. She would never forgive that!

‘Sister,’ he repeated the word as if its meaning was incomprehensible to him.

‘You know, of course, your mother passed away?’ She had been institutionalised, raving, shortly after her son departed the UK. The balance of her mind had been disturbed, and she never fully recovered from that.

‘I heard something of it, I believe…’ He seemed so terribly vague, lacking in focus. I wondered if he still indulged in the use of narcotics to aid his visions? Probably. Probably he was hopelessly addicted to them, too. ‘Must go now,’ he said. And with that he turned away, accompanied by his two silent young men. They walked off into the crowd together, and I never saw Achelous again after that.

*(This is an expanded repost. Originally I took post down because an individual involved in these events feared they might be identified from the content – an obvious nonsense! How could they be? Names and places have all been changed. But I removed the post, anyway, to provide them comfort of mind. Subsequently, however, this individual suffered a series of heart attacks and passed away shortly before last Christmas. Hence the repost).

The Witch Speaks…

April 6, 2015


“Break the sticks and curse the stones, call up servants from the earth’s ancient bones.

“Words will never hurt you, as long as they are under your thrall. When you grow powerful enough, nothing shall hurt you at all…”