On an impulse in May 2007 I decided to see how a local Pagan group did things. I wasn’t quite sure why, other than the fact that I have an avid interest in any subculture. I’ve always found it quite interesting that Paganism, which is in itself a collective term for all ancient religions, exists in modern life still; growing and evolving from the forgotten past to modern day, celebrating nature alongside concrete buildings and road-signs.
So what does it mean to be a modern day Pagan? Well, that would take years to find out, so my main aim was to find out what it meant to a specific small group. I arranged to meet for a ‘moot’, a gathering to hold rituals.
We entered the pub feeling a bit conspicuous; I had realised that I had chosen today to dress like a fortune-teller. We noticed a small group of people out the back. “That’s them,” nudged my friend Steve. I turned to see them looking our way; four people, two men and two women. I suddenly felt very nervous.
The first thing I noticed about everybody was that they were roughly early to mid-twenties. One girl had a blue nose stud but otherwise her clothes wouldn’t mark her out from the average crowd. Two young men were sitting on comfy seats, both with long hair. They were burly outdoor types, not the pasty thin Goth kids I had been expecting. In the seat next to me was a young girl with thick, wavy black hair and a lip ring. Her clothes were the most archetypal Pagan, that is to say floaty, and I liked it.
We were given leaflets with brief explanations on the basic beliefs of Paganism, and what seemed like beginner’s questions and answers, the most obvious being “What is a witch?” The answer given here is: “A witch is a follower of witchcraft or Wicca. Today the words…are interchangeable. S/he is essentially Pagan, worshipping the deity force of the universe personified usually as a God and a Goddess. Witchcraft can be described as one of the priesthoods of Paganism and, as such, Wiccans are also known as priests and priestesses.” The leaflet talked of Covens, and how they were close-knit groups of Pagans.
More arrived, including a woman who kept phoning her children’s babysitter and a shaven headed man in his early thirties. We were waiting for someone who would lead a ritual. Apparently he preferred to perform them in the woods but this particular coven liked to relax with a few pints.
As I asked the girl next to me some questions. She was very open about her religion and her workmates weren’t unfriendly to her because of it. It was “mostly making fun in a friendly way”. The other girl however admitted she had experienced some bullying from workmates.
After a while, the man who was leading the ritual arrived. By this point I was itching to see exactly what we would be doing. He was quite a tall, broad-shouldered man, also with longish black hair. We all headed out to the beer garden.
It was deserted, and would have been very dark but for the windows shining and the full moon overhead. Unsure of what to expect, I took the hands that were offered me as everyone linked to form a circle around a large white table. We were instructed by the ritual leader to take deep breaths, and close our eyes. We praised the traditional four areas of nature, earth, air, fire and water. With each one I heard a match being struck and a candle being lit. The general atmosphere was very calm.
As we opened our eyes, one of the boys said: “Now we can all start cutting ourselves” to laughter and chastisement from the others. The solemnity broke, and as part of the monthly ritual a fight between two Pagan figures was re-enacted, albeit very stiffly, by the two boys who had been there from the beginning. “Put some more effort in, “I called, “It looks like a computer game.”
Back inside the pub it became once again like any other social outing. From what I could gather this particular coven was, like other groups, a comfort and something that offered a sense of belonging and acceptance. We all look for this in one way or another be it religion, the WI or simply a group of friends.
Merry easter one and all! Anyone after some peculiar, mostly zombie orientated arts and crafts ideas be sure to go here.
Just because that Jesus bloke has a new album out and is all over the telly doesn’t mean the world of the strange stops. Have a look at some of these jolly links:
Number one is a blog post featuring circus sideshow art. Who can resist?
Number three is a website dedicated to UK and Irish horror/supernaturalness, link here.
Whilst researching the fantasy genre for a graphic novel I’m planning I found myself entrenched in the murky world of fanfiction. I’ve nothing against it per say, I just find it mildly disturbing…because it usually is quite disturbing (although I have to agree, I have always wondered about Holmes and Watson).
I found this Top Ten list of the most bizarre stories online via the Top Tenz website, here’s the original article. For a website with a title that includes deliberate cutesy spelling mistakes this article is very funny, and I had to share it with you. Seriously, if you thought you knew how bizarre it could get, you were wrong. Have a look:
“Fan fiction is perhaps the single strangest method of creative expression ever conceived. Despite the fact that the form is fueled entirely by people incapable of coming up with their own characters, there are works that show a remarkable—and often disturbing—level of creativity. Writers, unchained from the burdens of conventional standards of plot, pacing and grammar, are free to put their favorite characters in any situation they can dream of; and what they dream of is often insane. Here are ten fan fiction stories that we found especially baffling; although because TopTenz strives to be safe for work we eliminated any explicitly erotic stories—and therefore 99.97% of the genre—from consideration.
10. Sailor/ G.I. Joe
G.I. Joe represents America’s finest artistic achievement, and Sailor Moon represents how crazy Japan is. But what happens when the two forces team up to fight their enemies? Cultures collide, magical girls join the military, and stuff gets blown up. A lot of stuff. That’s pretty much all this story is about, actually; it’s like a novelization of the G.I. Joe movie, except with a lot more teenage girls talking about teenage girl things. While they kill people.
It’s a weird combination, because G.I. Joe is manlier than punching a grizzly bear to death while Sailor Moon’s target demographic consists entirely of 12 year old girls; so the writer of this story is either a very confused young man or the most awesome 12 year old girl ever. Also, we’d like to note that they dedicated their tale to the victims of 9/11, which, as we all know, was Cobra Commander’s most heinous act to date.
“Before the Vipers could raise a weapon, the Senshi attacked. ‘Jupiter Oak Evolution!’ Jupiter roared and hurtled a bolt of lightning at the HEAT and SAW Vipers. Both of them screamed as they were engulfed, electricity coursing through them, and both collapsed to the ground with a groan, twitching.”
9. Avatar and Twilight Combine in an Orgy of Clichés
You know those vampire books that all the kids these days are talking about? This may shock you, but they’re popular fodder for fan fiction. Hundreds of thousands of stories popular, to be precise. Out of all that craziness, this crossover with Avatar represents the strangest story we could find before our minds rebelled and refused to process any more tales about sparkling vampires and homoerotic werewolves.
The Twilight gang has come to Pandora to become involved in the Avatar project, presumably because budget cuts have made vapid teenage girls and mopey bloodsuckers the only affordable candidates for becoming nine foot tall Smurfs. Once transformed, they explore the wonders of nature and… oh, wait, they mostly just whine to each other about their love lives. There is a climactic battle, but it’s little more than a brief interruption of all the lovey-dovey talk. So if you liked Avatar but wished all the action had been replaced with sexual tension, then this is the story for you! You creep.
“I’d heard a new guy had arrived today for the Avatar Project,” Jacob says to me in a low voice. “But I haven’t met him yet.” Then he catches my tortured expression. “Bells, don’t worry. I haven’t caught any scent of vampire here. It’s a coinci… oh, ****. Never mind, now I do smell vampire. I’m sorry, Bella.”
8. Halo: Now With 100% More Anthropomorphic Hedgehog Murder
Sonic the Hedgehog games seem pretty straightforward, but there’s something about the franchise that’s attracted a legion of disturbingly obsessive fans. This story about Sonic characters in the Halo world is just a brief glimpse into Sonic fandom; much stranger tales exist, but to go any deeper would be to invite madness.
The Halo universe is being threatened by an ancient evil, and Sonic and his superfluous friends are just kind of hanging out in it. You’d think that a bunch of anthropomorphized animals would be useless in a place populated entirely by deadly soldiers, and, well, you’d be right. Sonic and company spend most of their time getting in the way, which makes their pointless presence even more mystifying. Also, Amy Rose (a 12 year old girl hedgehog) is violently murdered by a space marine in one of the more disturbing scenes we’ve ever read. Although it’s still not as disturbing as any of the countless stories that involve her having sex.
“Amy attempted to punch and kick sloppily at the soldier, while 018 pointed his sword to the right. He then kicked Amy in the chest, throwing her into one of the walls that held a stone statue that had a fragile build to it, destroying it completely in the procedure. 018 noticed Amy’s dress was becoming wet from the inside, and 018 realized that he might have snapped something from within her infant feeding areas.”
7. NCIS: Rapture
In this very special NCIS story, the team seriously oversteps their authority when they decide to investigate the secret underwater city of Rapture from the BioShock video games. If you’re not familiar with the games, all you need to know is that they involve crazy people with superhuman powers in a city with a crime rate even worse than Detroit’s. If you’re not familiar with NCIS, all you need to know is that it’s CSI on boats.
The story begins with one of the NCIS members playing BioShock, but in a plot twist that will blow your mind the team learns that the video game is based on reality. Why a secret city would create a video game that would do nothing except incriminate everybody who lived there isn’t explained, but most video games are full of plot holes so we guess we can let it slide.
After that startling revelation, the team says “Hey, we should blow up this city for some reason,” and then they go down there and shoot everybody. In just 14,000 words the team racks up a bigger body count than every episode of the show combined has seen; but it’s all for a good cause because they… uh… actually, they just kill a lot of insane people who were minding their own business. And that’s a shame, because their lack of motivation is the only flaw in this otherwise airtight premise.
“Remember, there are no humans here” whispered Vance. The rest nodded, and they quietly crept up behind the splicer before bludgeoning her to death.”
6. Harry Potter and The Pirates of the Caribbean
There’s a surprising amount of fan fiction involving Harry Potter and the Pirates movies, although the vast majority of stories are simply about Jack Sparrow boning one or more Hogwarts students (usually the male ones). This particular story takes a bold step forward by adding something that vaguely resembles a plot, which explores the question that mankind has asked for generations: what would happen if the Harry Potter heroes went back in time and sailed with the Pirates characters? Of course, there’s still lots of boning, but it’s (relatively) tasteful.
OK, so the plot is mostly an excuse for Harry and his pals to fall in love with Sparrow and company. Which, given their ages differences, is rather disturbing. There is some action, but even during the fight scenes our heroes mostly stand in the background and daydream about each other. Furthermore, everybody’s personalities have been set to “giggling buffoon” mode, which makes the romances so sugary that they become rather nauseating; it’s like watching Care Bears make out. Oh, and Ron gets murdered because there was an uneven number of protagonists. Love can be cruel sometimes.
“Do you, Hermione Granger, take Jack Sparrow to be your loftly wedded husband? Till death due you part?” the priest turned and asked her.
“I do” she responded. She looked back at Jack. Their eyes exchanged looks of love.
5. James Bond Takes Down SPECTRE with the Help of Pinocchio
When the new leader of SPECTRE threatens to turn every child in Europe into a donkey, it’s up to James Bond to stop his nefarious plan. But he can’t do it alone, which is why MI6 must call upon the aid of a time traveling Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket, Lampwick and Geppetto. Why they’re traveling through time to fight evil isn’t made clear, but since any attempt at an explanation would probably make our heads explode we’re not going to complain.
Rather than turn Pinocchio and company into stone cold killing machines, the author instead chose to bring James Bond down to a G rating. While this does keep things family friendly (and this story will no doubt become a timeless family classic one day), it unfortunately eliminates the Bond franchise’s signature wit. So, to our great disappointment, Pinocchio doesn’t lie in order to spear a bad guy with his nose while saying something like “I hope you don’t mind me nosing around.” Although Geppetto does blow up two motorcycles, so that’s something.
“James Bond’s view of M’s three guests changed when he saw not a microphone under the hat but a rather large clothed anthropomorphic cricket. James was a logical man like all 00 agents had to be but the only logical conclusion to seeing the cricket was were real life characters from the aftermath of the story of Pinocchio when the puppet was made a real boy. James Bond was not only in the presence of time travelers, but time travelers from an earth time line where the story of Pinocchio was true and not a fairy tale.”
4. Lord of the Scooby Snacks
While The Lord of the Rings is undeniably a masterpiece, we can all agree that it would have been even better had it also included a talking dog that solved mysteries. One fan fiction author, seeing the error of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ways, wrote a story that dropped the cast of Scooby Doo straight into Middle Earth.
The tale begins with Scooby and the rest of the gang finding the one ring, which transports them to the Shire and turns them into hobbits. They promptly team up with Frodo and company to destroy the ring; the story is basically the same as the source material, except most of the rich mythology has been replaced with a love triangle featuring Fred, Daphne and Legolas. Oh, and Scooby falls in love with a sexy elf dog.
Sadly, this epic wasn’t finished, so we’ll never know how it ends. However, we’re willing to bet that the plan was for Sauron to be defeated by an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine, at which point he was unmasked and revealed to be mean old Lobelia Baggins.
“Fred glares at Legolas. “Oh man! Why on Middle Earth did have to get stuck with this guy?”Fred thinks. “And I wish I knew why Daphne likes him so much.” Fred looks a Legolas’s long hair and his tall figure. “So he’s handsome, I still don’t see what’s so great about him.” The young Hobbit thinks. “I hope we reach the town soon.” Just then Fred hears a noise that sound a bit like Orks.”
3. Sherlock Holmes and Watson Make Out, Also Have Pokemon
People have been writing Sherlock Holmes fan fiction since the character’s debut, but this story is unique in that it also involves Pokémon, and it involves them for a reason that not even the great detective could figure out.
The tale begins with Holmes trying to seduce Watson, but Watson is so distressed by this that he packs up his Pokémon and leaves for another city to become a Pokémon doctor. Holmes, unable to resist his true love, tracks Watson down, shows him his newly acquired Pokémon, and pretty much comes within a step of committing rape. At first Watson resists, but then their two Pokémon merge into one, and Watson is so impressed by the act that he gives into his feelings for Holmes. They share a passionate kiss, and while much is left unanswered we’re just thankful that the story ended before they showed each other their second kind of pocket monster, if you know what we mean.
We mean their genitals. It’s implied they touch each others genitals.
“It gave me a sad look. I wanted to ask what was wrong but I still couldn’t find my voice. Then, without warning, Slowbrow grabbed my hand with its newly free paws. It then grabbed Holmes’ hand with the other. We both stared at it in uncertainty. Slowbro brought our hands together, and they connected like puzzle pieces.”
2. The Lion King is Retold with the cast of The Golden Girls and Courage the Cowardly Dog
In the most surreal crossover known to man, Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia wake up one day to find that they’ve become lion cubs fathered by Mufasa. Courage is there for some reason too, and together they grow up with Simba, destined to do great things.
Only two chapters were written before the author abandoned the story, presumably because they recognized their own insanity and checked themselves in to a mental institution. If you’re wondering why we’re including a story that only lasted two chapters, it’s because those two chapters pack in more craziness than most complete works. For example: at the end of chapter two, Dorothy develops telekinetic powers and uses them to make a buffalo explode. And, if you listen carefully as you read about it, you can hear your mind snap.
“But then one of the buffalo charged right at us and then before I knew Dorothy activated a pink, transparent, glossy telekinetic bubble and barricaded the both of us from that buffalo. The buffalo smashed right into the bubble and was instantly electrocuted and stunned into a paralyzing daze. He then swooned to the ground and the rest of the herd lunged right for us. ‘Fire away, Pussycat!’ I commanded Dorothy challengingly and then Dorothy shot and discharged streaks of pink lightning bolts from the telekinetic bubble in a flare of fury and then several of the buffalo were stunned and electrocuted as the electricity spewed out through their bodies and were flattened to the ground.”
1. Twilight and Harry Potter – Horrifying Pregnancies
Yeah, we know what you’re thinking. “After all the weird stuff they’ve shown me, they’re going to end with a run-of-the-mill Twilight/Harry Potter crossover? How lame is that?” Well, we’ll explain. Jeez, show some patience. Jerk.
For starters, this work in progress has already reached 319,000 words, which makes it longer than any of the novels it’s based on. Even more worrying, it comes with a disclaimer: “Will have mpregs!” For our laymen readers, that means male pregnancies. That also means it’s OK for you to stop reading and slowly back away from your computer; we won’t judge you.
There are about 20 scenes of Harry Potter getting in and out of the shower, and everybody spends most of their time telling each other how nice they look without shirts on. It would actually be less gay if they just had sex. And when that finally happens, Draco ends up pregnant. There’s even a long explanation as to how this is possible, although thankfully the details of how the child will be delivered are left out. But don’t worry; we’re sure some other fan fiction writer will cover that soon enough.
“No,” Draco snapped. “No you don’t! My father can barely stand to look at me, Jacob’s on the other side of the country and I don’t even know what I feel for this- this baby growing inside of me!”
“I thought you told your dad you didn’t want to terminate.”
“Usually…I don’t,” admitted. “But sometimes I just want it to all go away.” His lips pursed in self-disgust and anger. “And then two seconds later, I feel horrible. I feel horrible that I don’t want this kid whole-heartedly and without hesitation. And just seeing Jacob…just having him think it’s so easy…I…” Draco shook his head, almost curling into himself as his arms wrapped around his middle.”
By Mark Hill