Monday, February 22, 2010

Christ on the Beat

Criminals in the British town of Barnstaple had better watch out. Christ is on the beat, and apparently he's getting results.

A police officer has put his faith in prayer to catch criminals. Inspector Roger Bartlett believes divine intervention has brought down the crime and number of road deaths in his area.

The staff officer with 23 years’ experience arranges quarterly prayer meetings in Barnstaple, Devon.

He first asked Christians to pray for the crime detection rate in 2007, which at 26 per cent was one of the poorest in the area.

With a little help from Jesus, the crime detection rate quickly improved, road deaths dropped, and criminals found themselves strangely unlucky - just as if a spell had been cast over the area. Which, in effect, it had.

‘Now Barnstaple currently has a detection rate of just over 40 per cent of total crime, which is one of the highest in the country,’ said Inspector Bartlett.

A serial burglar was arrested ‘in very unusual circumstances’ three days after a prayer session and serious road accidents fell from 97 to 32 in a year, he added.

Prayer and magick are very much the same, differing mostly in terms of technique. If crime is a problem in your area this just shows you can deal with it regardless of your spiritual beliefs. If you're a magician or Pagan, cast a spell. If you're a Christian, pray. You can get good results either way.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Devil Bunny?

So you think that your house is haunted and you decide to bring in a TV medium to sort things out. The medium explains that the problem is obvious - your family pet is a really big rabbit. Oddly enough, named "Ralph" rather than the more prosaic "Harvey."

‘We are pretty sure our house is haunted by something or other, so Ralph went up to London with friends of ours to meet Derek Acorah,’ said owner Pauline Grant. ‘They said it was pretty spooky and he had a good old chat with Ralph about the spirits in our house.

‘He seemed to think Ralph was channelling the spirit of a ghoul. It sounds like a load of old nonsense but Ralph isn’t your average rabbit,’ she added.

Ralph’s mother, Amy, was the world’s biggest rabbit until her death last year. She weighed in at 19kg (42lb) and was 1.22m (4ft) long. Mrs Grant believes Ralph, even though he’s less than a year old, is already longer and heavier.

‘He is just so big. You do not fully realise until you pick him up,’ she said.

The connection between oversized animals and paranormal phenomena has to my knowledge never been explored, largely because it sounds completely ridiculous. But let's say you have the world's biggest hedgehog and are hearing strange noises at night. Does that mean you need to call in the Ghost Hunters?

I'll open this one up to readers - have any of your ever experienced a haunting centered on a larger-than-usual pet? Or this medium just completely confused? As always, "both" constitutes a reasonable response.

UPDATE: I wonder if this woman has any trouble with hauntings. She sure has a big dog.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ugandan "Ritual Killer" a Fake

Last month while I was in the hospital a BBC-produced documentary aired in which Pollino Angela, a traditional African witchcraft practitioner, claimed that he had murdered 70 people over the course of the last 22 years, including his own son, for magical purposes.

At the time I missed covering that story on the blog, but if I had I would have noted that Pollino's claims sounded pretty fantastic, were filled with moral panic elements, and were overall pretty hard to believe. As it turns out, it sounds like I would have been right.

The documentary, aired by the BBC on January 10-20, is estimated to have been watched by about 65 million people around the world.

But a statement released by the head of the Anti-Human Sacrifice and Trafficking Task Force in the Police, Moses Binoga, who investigated the matter, said Angela’s story was false.

“He confessed that the whole story, as quoted by the British journalist, was false and said that he had been promised funds from donors to run his Fr. Russo Foundation if he gave a fantastic story about traditional healing and human sacrifice in Uganda,” Binoga said.

The Police officer said that Angela was paid Shs 200,000 while other “actors” in the documentary were each paid Shs 50,000 for their role.

Binoga said that Angela told Police in Lira that his son, whom he claimed in the documentary that he killed, actually died of natural causes and had been “decently” buried in a family cemetery.

Angela is still in trouble with the law, but for making false statements rather than for murder.

Police said the man will now be charged with giving false information. “More investigations are going on with the Inspector General of Police and a more conclusive report will be submitted very soon,” Binoga said.

Binoga accused the BBC journalist of “editing the documentary to make it seem like child sacrifice is at its worst here [in Uganda], which is not the case.”

The BBC journalist who produced the documentary insists that the report is accurate and that Angela is lying to the police now to cover up his involvement in the murders. However, even over the course of 20 or more years 70 murders is a pretty big number. It's hard for me to believe that nobody would have said anything about it until a camera crew came around to interview them.

I'm not trying to claim that human sacrifice is never committed in the course of African folk magick. There's plenty of evidence that it does sometimes happen, as the well-documented albino killings in the rift valley region attest. My point is this: according to the article 29 people are believed to have been the victims of ritual murders in Uganda in 2009. 70 murders over 22 years means 3-4 murders a year, which would make this one man responsible for more than 10% of the ritual murders across the entire country.

I don't find that sort of percentage very credible, and it makes a lot more sense to me that he was exaggerating for the camera, bribe or no bribe.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sussex Horse Plaits

Over the last several months at least ten horses in and around Sussex, England have been found to have plaits in their manes, like small braids, put there by persons unknown. Police have speculated that this may be the result of some sort of magical practice, and have been contacted by two sources regarding the sort of magick that might be in use. However, the statements police claim to have received strike me more as garden-variety publicity seeking rather than any sort of real magical technique.

Police have received reports from places as far apart as Westergate in Chichester, Rother and East Grinstead - reflecting similar reports across the country.

Officers in Dorset have been contacted by a warlock, or male witch, who claimed the plaits are used in rituals by followers of “knot magick”, also known as “cord magick”.

The first big red flag for me here is that I've never heard of a serious witchcraft practitioner describing himself as a "warlock." There is apparently a traditional usage of the term in Scotland, but not in England. Dorset is in the far south of the country on the English channel - that is, nowhere near Scotland. It also occurs to me that it doesn't take a lot of magical knowledge to think, "hey, knots in the horses' manes - that's 'knot magick!' Or should I tell them it's 'cord magick?'"

But Kevin Carlyon, the Hastings-based self-proclaimed High Priest of British White Witches, told The Argus some plaits or knots could be evidence of devil-worship or black magic.

He said mostly the practice by “white witches” is harmless and intended for the witch to benefit from the horse’s natural power or as a gift or tribute if they see horses as sacred animals.

Mr Carlyon said plaiting has also been known to precede ritual mutilation of horses in black magic.

Mr Carlyon said: “It still goes on unfortunately.

“If it is normal plaiting, like a girl’s hair, that is beneficial witchcraft.

“With more complex, more tightly knotted plaits, you’re looking down the darker side.

”It is like they are marking the horse to say, this is our chosen one.”

What strikes me as silly about this is the sensationalism. The plaits have been appearing for months and none of the horses have been injured in any way, but nonetheless some sort of harmful magick still merits a mention - I suppose because it sounds evil and newspapers, especially tabloids, eat that up.

Police are urging people to contact police if their animals have been plaited, and to challenge strangers hanging around farms or places where horses are kept.

That's good advice for people who keep horses, but thinking about it further what this most reminds me of is the whole crop circle thing. A couple of guys decided that they wanted to do something incomprehensible that would seem mysterious, so they improvised some tools and started creating circles and other shapes in random fields overnight. Then they watched all the media speculation and had a good laugh.

It seems to me that rather than spending hours making circles in fields of wheat it would be a lot easier to just sneak into a barn, put a braid in a horse's mane, and then disappear into the night. The media is bound to start talking about magick when all other explanations fail - or maybe aliens!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Everything Still Works

I have to admit that this comment from almondveined on the original thread about my gallbladder surgery scared the heck out of me.

Probably as a result of the surgery weakening my diaphragm I developed a hiatal hernia and with it more or less lost the ability to do any sort of energy manipulation. My guess is it's due to vagus nerve entrapment.

Anyway, all I can advise is for you to avoid stressing your abdomen too much. Avoid heavy weights and don't let yourself get constipated. I've been almost cut off from the spiritual for two years now and it sucks.

It never really occurred to me prior to the surgery that this was even a possibility. One of my Qigong teachers was really down on gallbladder removal, but even he admitted that with the gallbladder out the energy meridian was still present and could be worked with.

I use Qigong-based energy work extensively in my ceremonial practices and if that were to quit working I'm not sure what I would be able to come up with as a workaround. I'd probably have to see about doing more traditional grimoire evocation and summoning up more spirits rather than relying on my own power for simple stuff, but that could become a hassle pretty fast given that in my day-to-day life I use magick all the time. The whole point of just willing simple stuff to happen is that it's more convenient than going through the whole temple setup and ritual procedure.

I've been back at work for two weeks now but my recovery has been a little slower than usual, probably due to the internal bleeding from the original surgery. Nonetheless, I am happy to report that I've been running through my Qigong sets and all of my energy work techniques still seem to produce the same effects and my diaphragm breathing is mostly unaffected by the remaining suture sites. So it seems that I've dodged a bullet there, and I offer my thanks to everyone who sent some healing my way. Every little bit helps.

I hope to be back up to full speed shortly get back to more interesting blogging. Lately I haven't had the energy for much writing besides some short pieces for my new author website, but I expect that to change soon.

Thanks for your patience!