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A Lighter Alternative for Exeter University | Issue 8 | FREE

Hypnotic Dating Not Another Teen Exorcist Take a Walk on the Weird Side Ouija Witches Rule, OK? Dealt the Cruel Hand of Fate Horrorscopes Ghostbusting

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We would like to thank the generous Annual Fund scheme and its benefactors for making Exetera possible for yet another year. Thanks also to our advertisers and consistently brilliant contributors, without whom we would, quite literally, not exist.

editor Mark Izatt deputy editor Declan Henesy contributing editors Charlotte Simpson Ben Clarke Robert Harris Alexis Mastroyiannis marketing and publicity Jennie Frewen Imogen Custers financial director Ruby Frankland

contributors Emma Bowen / Conor Byrne / Christopher Featonby / Ruby Frankland / Lottie Graham / Rosa Jones / Rose Myatt / Josephine Mulder / Maude Ndame / Hannah Peck / Melissa Saint / Charlotte Simpson / Ben Westlake / Rebecca Wright get in touch To contribute: submissions@exeteramagazine.com To advertise: marketing@exeteramagazine.com General enquiries: exetera@exeteramagazine.com follow us Facebook: fb.com/exeteramagazine Twitter: @exeteramagazine Instagram: @exetera


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he theme of this edition is one of our favourites yet. Still, we worried that it might be too niche a topic, and wouldn’t inspire enough people to write. Our fears were allayed when we were sent more submissions than ever before. Much to my disappointment, none of these were stories about voluptuous vampires glutting themselves on the coursing blood of innocent Victorians, nor unflinching exposés into the Wiccan culture which may or may not thrive amoungst Exeter’s student body. What we did receive was more reflective than fetishistic, asking some stimulating questions: In a post-religious, post-digital, overdeveloped society, how and why does the supernatural maintain its appeal? How are the storytellers of today making monsters of old, new? Can the definition of ‘magic’ extend beyond paranormal sorcery and chicanery? Don’t worry, though – it isn’t all so serious. This is a magazine made for more than reading. On page 11 you will find a working ouija board, complete with instructions; pages 20-21 are a guide to setting off on a ghost walk through Exeter; page 25 will solve all of your worldly problems, and pages 30-31 will beqeueath to you your future. Without further ado, I hope you enjoy reading (and using) Exetera’s Occult Edition as much as we enjoyed making it. Mark

O c c u l t u s Rebecca Wright............................................................................................................. 4 M o b M e n t a l i t y Christopher Featonby...................................................................................... 5 W i t c h e s R u l e , O k a y ? Conor Byrne...................................................................................... 6 W h o’s A f r a i d o f t h e B i g , B a d B a n k ? Rosa Jones...................................................... 8 O u i j a : A P r a c t i c a l G u i d e Mark Izatt.............................................................................11 T h e C o v e n Charlotte Simpson..................................................................................................12 H y p n o t i c D a t i n g Lottie Graham..........................................................................................18 Ta k e a Wa l k o n t h e We i r d S i d e Hannah Peck, Declan Henesy.................................20 D e a l t t h e C r u e l H a n d o f F a t e Robert Harris..............................................................22 T h e S o r c e r y S i s t e r s S o l v e Imogen Custers & Jennie Frewen.........................................25 N o t A n o t h e r Te e n E x o r c i s t Ben Westlake....................................................................27 H o r r o r s c o p e s Alexis “Mystic” Mastroyiannis........................................................................30 G h o s t b u s t i n g Charlotte Simpson...........................................................................................32 T h e S p e c t r e o f Tr u t h i n t h e M e d i a Ruby Frankland..............................................34 M a k e Yo u r O w n F o r t u n e - Te l l e r Declan Henesy........................................................36


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O C C U LT U S Rebecc a Wright refle cts on th e p lace o f t h e su p ern at u ral in t o d ay’s w o rld .

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oming from the Latin ‘occultus’, the dictionary defines the occult as something ‘clandestine, hidden, secret.’ However, in modern culture, this definition has been extended to incorporate ‘knowledge of the paranormal’, magic and deeper knowledge of religion and spirituality. The concept of the occult has fascinated people and societies for centuries, from the medieval practices of alchemy, astrology and divination all the way through to modern religious sects such as Satanism. There is no denying that the interest and intrigue surrounding the occult has remained strong throughout history – but why? The answer is, of course, inextricably tied to humanity’s fascination with, and fear of, death. Death is inevitable, unknowable, complex, and, as most people would agree, a terrifying concept. The fact that so many people would admit to an intense fear of death, or, more specifically, oblivion, sheds light on the widespread hunger for knowledge about hidden and unknown concepts. Ultimately, death is the ‘great unknown’, and the occult is the very embodiment of this idea. From mediums to Ouija boards, from tarot cards to palmistry, the occult is inextricably linked to a desire to know our fates, to predict events in our lives before

they happen, and to feel confident in the idea that we will make some kind of meaningful impact upon the world before we depart it. The evidence of this can be found when examining popular culture: Take Harry Potter, for example, a globally-acclaimed phenomenon and household name which has touched the lives of children and adults alike, and is credited with turning a whole generation of kids onto reading. It is interesting that the most popular book series and film franchise in history stems from concepts of magic and the paranormal – two concepts which make up the definition of the occult. The idea of knowing things others don’t, delving deeper into the spiritual world than our neighbours, and believing that there is ‘something else’ out there is particularly prevelant amongst children. This poses the question of whether an interest in the occult is deeply engrained from birth. Fascination with our own mortality grips us throughout our lives, and, as Rowling herself admits and few critics seek to argue, death is the predominant theme in Harry Potter. Nearly all major religions have some form of the Christian Heaven and Hell, and a system of punishment, reward and repentance to determine where the fate of an individual lies.

This concept of continuity after death, of an other-worldly higher power, is directly connected with the lure of the occult. However, dabbling with ‘black magic’ to probe into these mysteries, or to change one’s fate, is marked with fear and unease. Should humanity possess the right to know everything? Is it dangerous to probe too deeply into the mysteries of the world? Certain religions such as Satanism provoke violent opposition as a result of a deep-rooted fear of the ‘spiritual world’, indicating that despite our fascination, there is a certain understanding that we cannot ever truly unlock all the mysteries of the world. Something innate will inevitably hold us back. But through literature and film, the occult lives on. Whether out of fear, intrigue, fascination or simple disbelief, we cannot deny that the human experience would be considerably less exciting were it not for the occult. After all, if we do not suspect the existence of that elusive ‘Other’, whether benevolent or destructive, what reason is there to strive for more in life? Like all small children who read Harry Potter and pray that their letter from Hogwarts would land on their doorstep, everyone wants to believe in something special.


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M O B M E N TA L I T Y C hr istopher Fe atonby w onders if occ ul t ist b eh avio u r is ab o u t m o re t h an p aran o rm al f o rc e s .

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he Occult Edition? Surely there’s not much to go on, not in our modern world of cold, cutting logic and rationality. I mean, we’re hardly overflowing with superstition and paranormal belief. If you exclude a select group of nutcases (like Yvette Fielding) that traipse about the country in the hope of witnessing spectral visitations, we’re a nation that has thankfully surpassed its once crippling commitment to the supernatural. Surely the point of the Enlightenment was to rid ourselves of those irrational beliefs in order to embrace the empirically true. As such, we are lucky to live in a society in which the entailments of myth and folklore have long since been discarded and usurped by a sterile secularisation that looks back at our past beliefs with a smug sense of superiority. But are we right to view ourselves as too developed to fall foul of irrational beliefs? Can we really be hubristic enough to think that we’re any less susceptible to the lure of occult practices than our less ‘enlightened’ predecessors? It seems to me that instances of occult behaviour are just as endemic in our modern society as they have ever been. Take our obsession with body image, for example. Gyms have never been more strained in accom-

modating our relentless urge to sculpt the perfect bod. Hour upon hour is sweated away in its construction, and it’s not just time that’s sacrificed in this aesthetic crusade, but also our psychological welfare. Weighed down by the pressure to achieve the correct reading on the bathroom scales, more and more of us fall into a neurotic relationship with food. What may start out for someone as a harmless diet can escalate into a fully blown eating disorder. And should they trespass beyond the realms of cabbage soup into something that resembles actual nutrition, the guilt with which they do this is crippling, and can only be offset by yet more servitude to the treadmill. Clearly then, on the basis that it can propagate damaging attitudes to ourselves, hyper-commitment to cultivating a desired body image is hugely irrational. So, what’s occult about that? We may hold irrational and harmful beliefs, but surely there’s nothing mystical or hidden about doing so? We’re not exactly practicing the dark arts during our morning bicep curls, so far as I can tell. Surely the choice about whether to squat or not is as clear as day; the degree of our commitment to perfecting our bodies is brought about through beliefs that are intrinsic to our identity.

But does this obsession with our image really come about through processes of internal reflection? Are we really predisposed to the pursuit of protein shakes and the endless monotony of the treadmill? Or are we merely abiding by the requirements of a constructed set of social rules that we have almost no jurisdiction in determining? What could be more occult than actively subscribing ourselves to the whims and wants of societal demands for conformity? Furthermore, I don’t think that our obsession with body image is the only example of occult behaviour in contemporary society. Is our worship and imitation of exhibitionistic celebrities any different from the religious idolatry practiced by our ‘primitive’ predecessors? Even the lingering ramifications of racist, classist and homophobic discrimination further exemplify a widespread attachment to irrational beliefs. I posit that many of our common practices, some emblematic to the identity of the modern world, are no more comprised through individual reflection than they are determined through an intangible presence of pervasive group-thought. Why we do what we do is often not in our control.

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WITCHES RULE, OK? C onor By rne cons iders the o n -screen p o rt rayal o f f em ale w it ch es a nd w hat the y might say ab o u t t h e w ay w e view f em in in it y.

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itchcraft has long been associated with the paranormal and supernatural, and in Western societies has explicitly been gendered. For many, the prevailing image of the witch is an old, misshapen hag who rides a broomstick, curses her neighbours, and inflicts misery on all who cross her. Other societies differ in their treatment and perception of witches – in Africa, for example, the witch doctor is typically male and witchcraft is used to explain all events out of the ordinary. It’s interesting to explore whether mass media in modern Western societies continue to propagate this perception of the (female) witch. It seems that witches are all over the television at the moment. While they served as popular symbols of the supernatural alongside dark sexuality and female power in the late 1990s, by the 2000s they had arguably given way to vampires, as conveyed in successful films and programs such as the Twilight series, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries. But female witches had played a significant role in modern media far before this quick on-screen popularisation of vampires. From this perspective, a worthwhile place to start might be the 1996 film adaptation of Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible. In the heavily religious society of

late seventeenth century Massachusetts, young village girls engage in ritual chicken murder, drinking blood and wishing for the death of a fellow villager’s wife. Abigail (Winona Ryder) wishes for this death after previously enjoying an affair with the woman’s husband, fuelled by hatred, jealousy, and feelings of rejection. Eventually, Abigail and her acquaintances become outcasts, marginalised by their community after their plans go awry. Rather than presenting the female witches in this film as deformed and ugly elderly women, The

Crucible seeks to emphasise the agency of adolescent girls who, in a climate of sexual jealousy, religious influence and societal pressures, take control of their own fates and attempt to control the fates of others. That the portrayal of female witchcraft in modern mass media is complex and multifaceted is demon-

strated in the 1993 American horror comedy film and Halloween favourite Hocus Pocus. Similarly drawing on the background of the seventeenth-century Salem witch trials, the themes of this film centre on jealousy and hatred and, above all, a desire for power. The film’s witches, three sisters, absorb the life force of children in order to fulfil their dreams of eternal youth. The agency and power of female witches in guiding their own destinies, therefore, is clearly a visible and recurring theme. Bette Midler, who stars as Winifred, clearly conforms to the dominant representation of the female witch as old, ugly, and wicked. The more sexualised portrayals of her younger sisters, Mary and Sarah, indicate a very different representation of the woman witch as sexual predator. They bewitch and seduce passers-by into walking, zombie-like, to the sisters’ household to become victims of their evil plots. The uncannily terrifying 1990 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel The Witches subscribes to traditional stereotypes of the female witch as physically deformed, abnormal, and frighteningly ugly, yet rejects and challenges the archetypal broomstick-flying, cauldron-stirring hag. Although the Grand High Witch herself is the epitome of grotesque monstrosity, her human disguise is rather more complicated: played by


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Clockwise from top left: Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus, Jessica Lange in American Horror Story: Coven, Tilda Swinton in The Chronicles of Narnia, Winona Ryder in The Crucible. Opposite: Anjelica Huston in The Witches

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Anjelica Huston, her dark hair, bewitching eyes and sensual costume render her a sexually mysterious, if unnerving figure who engages male figures in flirtation and fantasy. Her accomplices are well-dressed, even attractive women, suggesting that witchcraft acts both to disguise and create monstrous notions of femininity. The attractively modern portrayal of witches in the U.S. television show American Horror Story: Coven, in which female witches are powerful, sexually independent and ruthless, coincides with the legacy of the feminist movement, which challenged traditional perceptions of women as domesticated, virginal and delicate beings, assigning them a much greater agency than hitherto. The show compellingly characterises Fiona, a coven’s leading witch, as the anti-hero of a heavily female cast. She stands out for her cruelty, promiscuity and ruthless

ambition. At the same time, her character is multifaceted and complex, her personal troubles and battle with cancer leading us to a deep sympathy. Tilda Swinton’s portrayal of the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) presents a somewhat unique perspective, for the witch here is unusual for her regal hegemony: she is queen. The competing roles of queen and witch are fascinating: as queen, the White Witch naturally holds dominion and authority over all who reside in Narnia. However, as a witch, she enjoys her own unique authority, not deriving from the status of queenship but from corporeal ability. It is too simplistic to render the White Witch evil or subversive: her character is complex, for while her white costume and icy demeanour confirm her as cold, ruthless and power-hungry, her own sense of agency and admirable decision-making suggest a being of other qualities:

intelligence, resourcefulness, and leadership. Although the stereotype of the female witch as a deformed and ugly old woman arguably remains dominant, the likes of American Horror Story: Coven indicate changing perceptions of the female witch as a powerful woman who is more complex than traditional stereotypes permit. Shifts in witchcraft portrayal indicate the exciting scope of possibilities for representations of the female witch in the media. This coincides with a new representation of women in cultural forms more generally: rather than being reduced to simplistic and sexually charged caricatures (whore or virgin, mother or prostitute, for example), female characters are complex and intelligent, negotiating their own decisions and enjoying power and autonomy.


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WHO’S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD BANK? Ros a Jone s ex plores the S alem -like w it ch h u n t s p lag u in g A f rica and w hy the y might b e ju st t h e o p p o sit e o f o ld f ash io n ed .

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he story of the witch hunt is one of demonic Sabbaths, dunking stools and burning pyres. We would hope the fear of witches is just a child’s fantasy, before age and reason steps in. However, what if that fear could transgress the world of nightmares and become reality? Imagine if a witch hunt was carried out not amongst the characters of a fairy-tale, but in actual communities? What makes the phenomenon of a witch hunt so horrific? Being innocent but being accused. Having no means to appeal to your persecutor. Young men attack old women. Adults attack children. No one can help you without risking accusation themselves. You are damned if you defend yourself and damned if you don’t. Sadly, this phenomenon is becoming all too familiar in many parts of Africa today. In Gusii, Kenya, in 2009, it was recounted that during a witch hunt suspects were rounded up and arrested in their houses at night, and ‘chased and caught...like prey by day… their hands and feet bound with sisal ropes…torched after being dowsed with gasoline…while

the villagers drew back to watch the victims agonize and perish in the flames…’ Picture a woman in her eighties, defenceless but for her “sorcery”, accused by a group of young men of witchcraft. ‘Your days are over, old woman’, they chant as they slash into her skull with machetes and cut off her hands. Her “sorcery” has failed her. Blood stains the walls of the house in which her family continue on, shamed and ostracised. These details are terrifying. The horror of the witch hunt numbs me to the bone. Though surely this is just a deep seated part of African culture? Are we not safe because these primitive societies are so distinct from the West, both geographically and cognitively? Can we not leave them to it, and wait for the rationale of modernity, westernisation, capitalism, commercialism, and globalisation to reach their communities? In that case, let us sleep easy, proud of how far our own development has come. Perhaps. But what if we knew that it is only

since the 1990s and the onset of economic globalisation that witch hunts have proliferated, in ways unprecedented in the pre-modern era. Some anthropologists put this down to the global expansion of capitalism. Throughout Africa, governments race to catch up with the West, while richer states and businesses partake in ‘land grabs’ and foreign trading. Local economies have been undermined and competition for resources made more extreme. Unemployment has at times reached unprecedented levels, the currencies devalued, and basic services eroded. This is typical of the ladder of capitalism; some might climb it, but just as many have it kicked from beneath their feet. Nevertheless, in the West we are taught about this process, and it has become such a well-integrated paradigm that we tend to just accept it. The hope that we might “rise” means we still strive for capitalism’s fleeting promises even as we fall, and we do not question the premise of its logic. Still, what about when this process is intensified in a tradition-


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al subsistence-based community, ployment, perhaps the owner has 1000 women live in exile in hellwhere the ways and woes of a lib- raised a work force of living dead? ish “witch camps” to ‘keep their eral economy are not as familiar? Perhaps a witch has helped them neighbours safe’. Should those who Is it really so irrational and prim- enslave spirits into ‘ghost labour- are accused of witchcraft be put on itive, that the devastating realities ers?’ With rising mortality rates, trial, or those who persecute them? of being one of the losers of the malnutrition, and the spread of Or should it be the agencies that new global game, are increasingly AIDS, people are left desperate to are promoting capitalism without being attributed to ‘the ocrestraint or caution? These cult’? After all, with all our agencies could include the Western knowledge, we still World Bank, the IMF, and the ‘ Wi th the r is e in mor ta lity r a te s , discuss the ‘invisible hand African governments, who m al nutri tion, a nd the s pr e a d of of capitalism’. Is this so far believe economic liberalisaAID S, peop le a r e le ft de s pe r a te to from the invisible hand of tion is still the greatest good, fi nd answe r s to the ir pr oble ms .’ witchcraft? Are market forcregardless of the all-too-real es really that distinct from negative consequences. supernatural forces? NeiIt’s hopeful to think that ther belong to entities that we can find answers to their problems. these huge institutions and foreign actually see or hold to account. Perhaps the supernatural is not investors would ever think twice In response, competition has be- so irrational. about the effect economic liberalicome the catalyst for accusations The victims of witch hunts are sation is having on the psychologiof witchcraft. When one individual not guilty of supernatural crimes, cal rationality of a distant commuprofits and the others are left be- but they are being demonised and nity. After all, when we live in the hind, could black magic be afoot? tortured nonetheless. Between relative safety of the West, could When a foreign trade company 1991 and 2001, reports claim that we really be afraid of the big bad brings in hundreds of immigrant 23,000 “witches” were murdered bank? workers, yet local residents con- in Africa, 500 a year are lynched tinue to suffer the effects of unem- in Tanzania alone, and, in Ghana,

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NO

GOOD BYE

G H I J K F E D C L M B T U V W A S R Q X P Y O Z N 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

YES

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O U I JA A practical guide by Mark Izatt, M.D., D.Ph., D.Litt, I.D.K., F.M.L.

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elcome, brave seeker of knowledge, to the most perilous pages in print! For this is no ordinary paper – No! No mere carrier of words, but a portal into the nether regions of the spiritual world, a means to communicate with the Dead. A Ouija Board, such as that opposite, allows a group of people to communicate with the wandering spirits nearby, who, when posed questions, are compelled to answer. One may choose to bring forth a particular spirit - a deceased loved one, perhaps - or one may simply try their luck, an approach which might lead to the unsavoury discovery of malevolent ghosts, the likes of which must be dealt with most carefully. Whoever you choose to engage with, and however you choose to do so, is up to you. I, your humble guide, will simply provide you with the means to do so. To begin, you must find yourself a group of friends or acquaintances who share your curiousity, and seat yourselves in a tight circle around the Board. With six candles lit around the room and incense aflame, the air thick with fragrant smoke and invisible, palpitating ghouls, you are set to commence your solemn ritual. Once each participant has placed a finger gently on the Planchette, something will change: the air will shift, and strange energies will set your flesh ashudder. But, my curious friend, be not afraid! With voice deep and loud, ask your spirit to make Him or Herself be known! Your phantasmal interlocutor may take some moments to respond, but if you employ your utmost patience, the spirit in your thrall, trapped by the Magick of the board, will cause the Planchette to slide towards an answer – Yes, No, Goodbye, or any word spelt out letter by letter. In this fashion, you may proceed to enjoy an entire conversation with the ghoul in question. But! Heed my warning, dear reader, under no circumstances end your discourse without settling on the word ‘GOODBYE’. Should you fail to do so, your incorporeal companion will ride with you forever, and the peaceful life you knew will be well and truly over. Consider yourself warned.

A cut-out Planchette to place upon your board.

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T H E CO V E N photography and styling Charlotte Simpson assistant Rose Myatt models Emma Bowen, Josephine Mulder, Maud Ndame, Melissa Saint clothing stylist’s and models’ own


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HYPNOTIC D AT I N G Lottie Gra ha m re fl ect s o n t h e d ark art o f sed u ct io n .

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Ross: Ok. I'm going to tell you something about yourself. You create images in your mind. Very, very vividly. You're a very vivid daydreamer. And in fact – you're smiling because you know I'm right – you can look at someone and they can think you're listening. Jen: You're right. Ross: But if you're bored, you can be looking right at them, but you could be a million miles away, in your favourite ideal fantasy vacation spot. True? Jen: You're right. Ross: I'm absolutely right. I do a very rare, very unusual – hardly anyone knows about it – it's a form of hypnosis that involves no sleep. None. I call it ‘Blissnosis’.

Blissnosis? This is a transcript of what took place on a warm, calm afternoon at a Coffee Bean in Tea Leaf, California, where outside a sign even reads: ‘Good coffee. But beware of Casanovas.’ It's 2000 and Ross Jeffries, the ‘father of seduction,’ is demonstrating hypnotic dating to Louis Theroux as part of his Weird Weekends series.

Louis: [Interjects] Am I on planet la la? What is going on? He was just doing some voodoo on your arm. That was just nonsensical.

Ross: Did I understand you on a much deeper level than most people?

At this point, Louis looks positively terrified, and deciding to cut this odd experience short, he thanks Jen, they say their goodbyes and she wonders off blissfully into the distance.

Jen: Yeah, I felt it. Ross: Yeah, and you know what - you know that feeling right there. [He starts to slowly stroke her arm upwards]. Better, better…even better, right now.

Ross: Doesn't matter because she feels good, right? Jen: Right! I feel great.

Louis: Was that real? Ross: Yeah totally real!

Jen: Oh yeah.

Louis: You know, it looked like you hypnotised her.

Ross: Oh, yeah.

Ross: I did hypnotise her.


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ell, he ‘blissnosised’ her. If a strange man started stroking my arm, repeating ‘better’ in an increasingly excited tenor, I would run for it. But Jen was subjected to a form of hypnosis: a powerful tool used for psychological manipulation. It allows the user to awaken people's subconscious, inducing “a heightened state of suggestibility in which one will believe almost anything,” writes John Gruzelier, a psychologist from Imperial College, London. This explains why, “under hypnosis, people can do things that ordinarily they wouldn't dream of doing.” In 1991 Ross Jeffries founded Speed Seduction, which claims to teach men how “to approach any woman, anywhere, anytime and make her want you now.” Jeffries draws upon theories of neuro-linguistic programming; a system of language patterns, metaphors and figurative devices used to get women in the ‘bedroom mind-set.’ It has been an astounding success. Speed Seduction sells ‘F re ud its instructional DVDs for hav e as much as $345, as well as offering a three day ‘Get Laid’ workshop for the more hands-on approach (priced at $895, by the way). Jefferies even sells a book, succinctly titled How to Totally Mind-F*** almost Any Woman in to Screwing Your Brains Out and Make It Seem Like You're Just Having a Normal, Innocent Conversation! One could dismiss this guy as a shrewd businessman, taking advantage of impressionable women and desperate men. Yet, what’s odd, and slightly worrying, is that this form of hypnotism can be extremely effective. But it’s hardly anything new. Hypnotism has been used to seduce women for centuries. Over 5,000 years ago, in the old kingdom of Egypt, it was believed that eyes contained

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magnetic forces that, literally, caused attraction; a magnetic gaze. Indeed, Sigmund Freud noted that people in love, in deep love, have a similar relationship to people under hypnotic influence. It's sunny California and we're back in one of Ross Jeffries’ seminars. “Buzz words”, he states, “like imagine, feel, do, allow, permit, are all words which act as key commands to arouse a woman.” He then performs a demonstration on a girl called Alexis, telling

look on your face! You look like you've had three or four drinks…actually, it looks like she's had three or four orgasms,” he says, with a thin smile creeping across his face. “Is this for real?” Theroux doubts, understandably so. But it is. Just have a look at the ‘wall of proof ’ on Jeffries’ website: “Speed Seduction gets him 16 women, including three in just one weekend!”; “51-year-old man bangs over 90 chicks!”; “420 pound man bags stripper using Speed Seduction!” Jeffries is essentially using hypnotism to lure women into bed. Not only that, he’s idealising the playboy image and demonstrating to men, perhaps lacking in confidence, that there are ways for them to control the opposite sex. What happened to good old fashioned conversation? Must we resort to chicanery instead? Jeffries’ techniques may try and avoid the 4 B's, as he puts it (Bullying, Buying, Begging and Booze), but I’d rather someone talk to me with genuine interest than seduce me with buzz noted th at p eo p le in lo ve, in d eep lo ve, words or relaxing images. a simila r relat io n sh ip t o p eo p le u n d er Seduction doesn't have hy p n o t ic in f lu en ce. ’ to coincide with manipulation, which is where us “she mentioned she liked guys with I believe Jeffries truly loses his ethigreat hands. I'm going to play off that cal battle. He’s not just teaching men answer a little bit. You know how linguistic sleight of hand; he’s manipquickly, easily and powerfully you see ulating them into believing that they that yellow ball of beautiful colour and should be tricking women into bed. good feeling. Okay, watch. I'm going Deceit should not be necessary for to take some of it, breathe in as it gets one human being to attract another. bigger, breathe out as it gets smaller. Is our future to hypnotise one Pour some of it into this hand. No- another? Let’s hope not. So, for hutice how clearly you can imagine my manity’s sake, if you are in a pub, hands soaked in that colour, right?” club, or just the Costa on campus and Did you spot the buzz words? I've someone uses the word ‘allow’, ‘percounted two. mit’, or ‘imagine’ whilst stroking your “Now, look at where she's looking. arm suggestively, and telling you to I'm looking where I want her to look.” picture a giant yellow ball, then run After the repetition of ‘yellow’, ‘soaked’ for it. You are about to be hypnotised. and ‘bigger’, Alexis does indeed seem dizzy and giddy. “Wow, look at that

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TA K E a W A L K o n

Heavitree

Exeter Cathedral

‘Heavitree’ derives from ‘heafod-treow’, old English for ‘head tree’, which refers to a tree which was decorated with the severed heads of criminals.

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In the 16th century a nun and monk fell in love and she became pregnant. Their love being forbidden, they jumped down a well to their deaths. The scent of rose-water, which she wore, lingers around the site of their deaths to this day.

Why not visit the favourite haunts of Exeter’s (definitely real) ghouls using this concise illustrated guide?

The Castle The last three women to be executed for witchcraft in England – Temperence Lloyd, Mary Trembles, and Susanna Edwards – were imprisoned in the castle prior to their deaths. They remain ghostly residents of the building’s long-forgotten dungeons. The Turk’s Head This centuries-old pub plays host to the ghost of a red-headed lady in a long green dress. She is said to float eerily around the building, now Prezzo. Keep an eye out next time you’re enjoying a tagliaTERROR.


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WEIR D SIDE

Illustrations by Hannah Peck, words by Declan Henesy

The Ship Inn Sir Francis Drake lodged here when visiting Exeter. The dashing sea rover has been seen in the building several times since his death. He wears a doublet and hose of, for his time, a most fashionable cut, and stalks restlessly through the pub.

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Underground passages

The Guildhall The Guildhall shares its cellar with The Turk’s Head next door, and is also said to be home to a spectral lady. Some believe she is the same wandering spirit, although some say not.

The guides of the underground passages tell of a phantom cyclist who passes through them. Hidden treasure is also rumoured to be buried somewhere down there.


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D E A LT the

CRUEL HAND of 22

FAT E Robert Harris’ foray into the surprisingly really normal world of tarot card reading.


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n a recent ear-achingly cold Friday I took the 10:50am train to Exmouth, which, apart from being above water, is rather unremarkable. Opposite me, a boy sat with his nose gummed to the window, wide eyes furiously tracking the green and yellow blurs outside. On any other journey I would have joined him, rarely passing up the chance to stare pensively towards the horizon to reflect on the past, present and future. But instead of indulging in this moment of self-contemplation, I was about to pay someone to do it for me. I had booked a tarot reading with a local medium, and though I tend towards knee-jerk cynicism about the sorts of charlatans Derren Brown so often warns us about, it was the first time I was to actually experience, first-hand, anything of this kind. Exmouth, a perfectly charming yet wholly innocuous seaside resort (bar the near-epileptic amusement arcade), hardly offered an appropriately Gothic scene for having my spirit read and future predicted. That said, nor did the address I was told to show up at. The terraced suburban house showed no indication of the psychic service provided within. I was greeted at the door, not by a hunched and disfigured butler, but by a scrappy barking terrier and Lesley, the medium, who ushered me into a room that resembled a chic modern office space more than a bohemian grotto. There were no jars of suspect animal limbs, no crystal balls, and not a whiff of incense. Lesley seemed like a kind-hearted, genuinely earnest individual, and reminded me more of a genial suburban house wife than an enigmatic prac-

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tiser of the dark arts. Indeed, she tells me she moved to Exmouth to provide a safe place for raising her three children, now all in their mid-to-latetwenties. She’d previously taught as a lecturer in Business, IT and Marketing, until a car accident left her unable to work for six months. Confined to the home, Lesley took up reading as

a temporary pursuit. That was twelve years ago. After some small talk about the weather (including a regrettable flat joke about whether watching the forecast was considered cheating in her field), Lesley offered me a seat. Two recliner chairs sat facing each other next to a table, on which an A4 template waited for the tarot cards to be placed upon. “Watch out for the bounce on the chairs, darling,” she warned. After we’d bobbed to a halt, Lesley activated a Saw-esque LED timer and

I was told to shuffle the deck of cards, split them into three piles – “anywhere you like, love” – and reshuffle them once more; a familiar task that only added to my sense that what I was about to witness was not a channelling of prophetic spirits, but a well-rehearsed magic trick. I was then instructed to place five cards, face down, on each section of the template, all corresponding to a different point in time: past, present, one month, three months and six months. Tarot originated in Europe in the 15th century and was primarily used to play a number of recreational card games. During the late 18th century new and modified decks began to emerge and were employed by occultists and mystics to assist in efforts at divination. The tarot1 cards we were using belong to the OSHO2 Zen Tarot Deck, comprised of 79 unique cards that can be purchased on Amazon for about £15. OSHO’s website claims that their cards focus “on gaining an understanding of the here and now. It is a system based on the wisdom of Zen – a wisdom that says events in the outer world simply reflect our own thoughts and feelings, even though we ourselves might be unclear about what those thoughts and feelings are.” The rhetoric employed by both Lesley and OSHO’s promotional material is careful to avoid supernatural claims, and advises that reading should be used to assist in personal development, rather than for contacting some omniscient authority in search of concrete answers or explicit instruction. It is perhaps telling that the cards’ box refers to the product as a “game.”

Pronounced ‘tarott’ by me, ‘tarow’ by Lesley. Realising I had committed some sort of psychic faux pas, I suspected I would be the butt of a highly amusing inside joke at the next medium convention. There are hundreds of these conventions, and I can only imagine the deep rooted insecurities amongst the psychic community over an event of theirs being referred to as ‘a con’. 2 The company OSHO is named after the late Indian guru and spiritual teacher, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh; a man who earned the enviable sobriquet of ‘Sex Guru’, and whose commune in Oregon was charged with inflicting a bioterrorist attack, allegedly attempting to poison a number of residents of The Dalles. Regrettably, the cards are not quite as incendiary as the man they’re named after.

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Like most decks, each card repreFinally, ‘Adventure’ was to be found Side, guzzling gallons of black Amerisents a particular concept, with its in six months. Uncertainty lay in this cano and writing my magnum opus on name and corresponding pictogram future, Lesley told me, and I couldn’t a dusty Remington Portable. That was printed on its face. Lesley informed have agreed more. But I wanted to find before, walking back to the station, I me that revealing an upside down card out, specifically, what she thought I looked down at my jumper and noessentially voids whatever appears on would end up doing after I graduated, ticed the cover art for Huxley’s Brave it. As it turns out, I had unknowingly partly because any trip to the Career New World printed across my torso. placed all five cards upside down, and Zone is always a true wrist-slitter, Oh, well played, Les. Well played. quickly concluded that nothing but but mainly because I felt she’d been a Though I came away just as scepemptiness lay in my future. Ready to little too vague up until this point; a tical of psychics’ professed powers cough up my £20 and leave right then, concern Lesley must have read from of insight, I didn’t look back on it as I half expected to be smashed into the cards, as it was immediately ad- a necessarily negative experience. I oblivion by a speeding car with a cack- dressed. had begun to notice a trend in Lesley’s ling Uri Geller at the wheel. “Don’t What preceded this point had reading of me. Rather than focusing worry,” Lesley reassured me. “Let’s clearly been a mere warm up, some on divinatory predictions, the sesjust turn them all sion seemed to be around, shall we.” more a form of ego Cards righted, nurturing from a we were off. ‘Moralmother-come-lifeity’ was presented coach – no bad as the card of my thing in itself. She past, interpreted by spent her time reLesley as indicating assuring me of I had made some my positive quali“difficult decisions,” ties and exploring but had stuck to my where they might “inner compass.” So lead me. She assertfar, so ambiguous. ed her belief in me The next card, as an individual and ‘It is perha ps tellin g t h at t h e card s’ b o x ref ers t o t h e symbolising the assured me of sucprodu ct as a “ g am e. ” ’ present, was ‘Transcess in my future formation.’ By this career. Although point she had deduced I was in my fi- flirtatious psychic preamble before I’m unlikely to be adding Lesley’s unnal year of university (with little input the truly revealing main event. Lesley equivocal support to my CV any time from myself, to be fair) and interpret- instantly determined that I studied soon, I was no less appreciative of it. ed this card as a sign that I was heading English Literature (true), that I had And at £30-odd an hour, it’s certainly towards a major period of change in aspirations to write for a living (also cheaper than a therapist. my life, i.e. the transformation from a true), that I planned to move to LonOf course, you could make the happy, care-free student to an unem- don after university (true, though case that these sorts of services can ployed, broke and despondent young perhaps not all that impressive), but be misleading, but it’s easy to see how man (my words, not hers). that I would rather live abroad, some- they provide a comforting solution to Signalling what was to come one where like New York (spot on). I must some. Even if I don’t believe in it, I can month down the line, ‘Inner Voice’ admit, I found myself tentatively im- admit that tarot reading could be used was revealed next. This was read as pressed, either by her psychic prowess to positive ends. Many people elect to a continuation of my ‘Morality’ card, or my startling transparency. Some use spiritual belief systems to answer and it was advised that I should keep parts of her reading were admittedly their questions, and although I tend to following my own intuition and rather nebulous, the sort of statements use Yahoo Answers instead, their way “natural sense of what is right” as I that one could quite easily adapt to fit seems no less valid. proceeded into the future. their own situation. However, picking As Lesley told me, “If we all just ‘Completion’ was due to face me up on my literary inclinations and as- took some time to really listen, I bein three months’ time, which, im- pirations to write seemed much less lieve we can all learn to read people.” I pressively enough, coincides almost ‘catch-all.’ find it hard to disagree. exactly with the end of my degree. I left the house slightly in awe, ponThis is what I can only imagine psy- dering her words and picturing myself chics technically refer to as ‘a freebie.’ in a loft apartment on the Lower East


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the

S O R C E RY S I S T E R S (also known as Imogen Custers & Jennie Frewen)

S O LV E your

PROBLEMS Dear Sorcery Sisters, Since I started at Exeter I’ve loved the beer, bants and babes that come with being a rugby big dog. Now exams are approaching I’ve tried going to the library but find myself distracted by all the gym bunnies’ bouncy behinds. It’s giving me awkward moments under my desk and my chance of passing first year is slipping out of my tenuous grasp. What can I do? TP Terror Dear TP Terror, Place one hand on your penis and repeat out loud, “Hocus pocus false teeth, dishwashers, acne, Schrodinger’s Cat”. If that doesn’t work, then the fact that you’re in the library, with your hand on your penis, talking to yourself about dead cats, should scare the gym bunnies and their booties away. Yours, The Sorcery Sisters

Dear Sorcery Sisters, Dear Sorcery Sisters, Having a nightmare! I’ve indulged in one too many firehouse pizzas, and lots too many J-bombs at Cheesy Tuesdays (#ironic obvs) and my signet ring is getting a little tight. Mummy and Daddy have told me to drop the weight or drop the ring. What do you suggest? Expanding Exe‘rah’ Dear Expanding Exe‘rah’ Cut back on the cheese. Yours, The Sorcery Sisters

It’s reaching the end of my degree and although the 2:1 is in the bag, the guy of my dreams is not. I see him in the forum but I never know what to say. Help! Desperate Deidre Dear Desperate Deidre, We suggest letting alcohol do the dirty work your personality isn’t up to. Try stealing a strand of his hair and place it in a cocktail shaker (the mobile cauldron of choice for any aspiring modern witch). Mix in five ounces of gin, two ounces of dry vermouth and a couple of olives. Give half to him and drink the other half yourself. Hope that one of you doesn’t choke on the hair, and repeat until your bland personalities turn fuzzy and your clothes come off. Best of luck, The Sorcery Sisters

If you would like to submit your own problem to The Sorcery Sisters, write it out three times using the blood of an innocent and burn the page by the light of the waxing moon. *Exetera and the Sorcery Sisters do not condone excessive drinking, dangerous dieting, blood-letting, or public masturbation

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The Occult Edition

NOT ANOTHER TEEN EXORCIST Be n Wes tlak e ex plores th e st ran g e w o rld o f E van g elical exo rcism a nd its yo u n g er p ract io n ers.

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ith a title like Teenage Exorcists, you would expect a documentary to be part of the trashy fare that BBC 3 is prone to host on week-nights (Bizarre ER and Snog, Marry, Avoid come to mind). The Vice UK documentary in question, however, is actually compulsive viewing.

It joins a group of Evangelical teenage exorcists as they embark on a tour of Ukraine. The three girls huddle together backstage and bless each other: “God, I ask you to put Satan on notice, that we are coming, and I ask you to put those demons in torment�, says red-haired Brynne. The drab walls of the corridor, the cheap fold out chairs

and farcical nature of the show remind me of Spinal Tap. But the girls do not get lost backstage. Instead, they are announced on stage and surge through the middle of a clamouring crowd like Moses parting the Red Sea. Metallic crucifixes poke out of their skinny jeans and they clasp onto Bibles and smart phones. Halleluiah!


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Praise be to god! Raise those hands to high heaven because this is the holiest of holy stick ups! Brynne, Savannah and Tess are three home-schooled eighteen-yearold girls born and raised in Arizona. They are all black belts in karate, enjoy horse riding, and, naturally, are on a mission to save the world from the demons currently occupying millions of people worldwide. The sisters talk excitedly over each other and finish each other’s sentences. But they are not talking about their favourite bands or films; they chat animatedly about “casting out demons”. If you’ve ever indulged in a one-night stand, taken drugs, or been seduced by the Harry Potter series, you need their help. Bob Larson, curator and orchestrator of the whole spectacle, hypes up the crowd from his position of power on stage. Larson is Brynne’s father and a questionable character even by the standards of self-righteous, money-grabbing Evangelical Christians.

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As usual, Larson runs the show and plays to the crowd. He orders the audience to watch as he paces the stage slowly, holding a silver crucifix in front of him. It is no swinging watch, but Larson is certainly trying some brand of pseudo-hypnosis. He address the crowd in dulcet tones that belie the intensity of his message: “many of you in this room have suffered sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, by a parent or a lover, and it’s eating you up inside.” People line up beside the stage, already weeping in anticipation. The first woman in the queue is welcomed on stage and then restrained by two burly Ukrainian men while Larson attends to her: “I want to talk to little Marsha, I want to talk to the little girl who Daddy beat” he says. The woman starts to cry, scream and then growl before a wild, almost demonic glare emanates from her eyes. A shouting match commences between Larson and the ‘demon’, ending with

den that I’d been dragging for all this time – for 22 years since it happened – it just went away in an instant. I felt light.” Larson is at pains to ensure the exorcisms are well recorded. At one point he interrupts his flow to instruct one of the girls not to stand in front of the camera; he’s clearly annoyed at their mistake. It is Larson who has branded these home-schooled girls ‘teenage exorcists’ and realized their potential to become globe-trotting saviours. Indeed, one attendee at the New Generation church said: “My first association was with Spice Girls, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. The girls certainly occupy a middle ground somewhere between these two reference points. The expanding media presence around the girls and Larson is staggering: radio, television, a multitude of editorials and documentaries. The fact that these are laced with doubt and cynicism does not seem to harm

“D e mons i nci te ever y ki nd of s in in the he a r ts of the mor a lly we a k .” Larson began his career in the 1980s as an anti-rock Evangelist and wrote over ten books that explored the evil and corrupting effects of bands like Mötley Crüe, The Dead Kennedys and, of course, the notorious Fleetwood Mac. On his radio show Talk-Back with Bob Larson he further voiced his distaste for no-good-rockers and the “pro-pot, pro-abortion ‘Clinton crowd’”. It was on this show that he coined the phrase “doing what Jesus did”. He then copyrighted the term – because we all know Jesus’s views on intellectual property. His hopes of being a televangelist were shelved when a video of him attempting to exorcise the “demon of homosexuality” from a man went viral. Bob and the girls have completed a number of world tours and are now visiting the New Generation church in Pershotravensk, Ukraine – a backwater town remarkable only for coal mining, high levels of drug addiction and strong beliefs in the supernatural.

Larson ramming a Bible into the small of the woman’s back. The teenage exorcists step in and push Bibles under her chin and on the top of her head as her knees buckle. Olga, a woman who had originally attended the service to get help for her varicose veins, ended up telling Larson and the audience that her uncle had once raped her. Whether these people are going through some kind of catharsis, reacting to the intense presence of an intimidating priest, or merely feeling the pressure to perform under the lights, remains to be seen. Larson seems able to extract a reaction from any audience participant. Demons emerge in everyone – although not the kind from Milton’s Pandemonium. Instead, anxieties and frustrations surface from the dark depths of the fawning crowd. It seems like a collective offloading of troubles onto something – or someone – supernatural. Olga certainly felt some kind of relief: “I felt joy, as if this bur-

Larson’s reputation or his ability to make money – on the contrary, he continues to tour the world with his three protégés, claiming to have performed over 15,000 exorcisms. So, what exactly is a demon and what are the signs of possession? In the FAQ section of boblarson.org he offers a definition of a demon: “Demons incite every kind of sin in the hearts of the morally weak”. He claims that the major cause of demonic possession is sexual abuse, but that there are myriad ways to leave “the umbrella of God’s protection” and leave yourself open to demonic possession. Promiscuous sex is a definite no-go area, as Brynne explains: “So many times we’ve dealt with men who’ve gone to prostitutes and they’ve got demons. Just like you can get a sexually transmitted disease, you can get a sexually transmitted demon”. The GUM clinic cannot help you this time. Better book in for a Skype session with Bob. Speaking of Skype sessions, lets talk

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A still from Vice documentary Teenage Exorcists 28

money. Even during his early radio performances, Bob was pleading to people for money. Anyone who donated $1000 or more was awarded the status of “Champion”, and any lesser donations would win you the title “Hero for the Hurting”. The silver crucifixes sported by Bob and the girls are, by the way, available through Bob’s website at $100 a pop. Bob’s signed novels can be yours in return for a $100 “suggested donation”, and a twelve-week spiritual coaching program is run for $99 a week. The spiritual coaching program may seem like good value for money in the grand scheme of things, until you realise that this course involves only a twenty-five minute phone conversation with the great man once a week. The main event, the exorcism of a demon, will set you back $200. The words of Scientology’s founder Ron L. Hubbard should be ringing in your ears: “If you want to get rich, start a religion”. The whole concept is farcical and tragic in equal measure. The suggestible people found at these events are

emptying their hearts and their wallets to a false prophet. Who can blame them for wanting to offload their anxieties and failings onto a supernatural fiction? Another concern is the teenage exorcists. Larson, when asked if he thought it was safe to train teenagers to perform exorcisms, replied, “We think it’s OK to train teenagers to get drunk and have sex, but to do moral things for God, oh, let’s not train them to do that”. Putting aside the discussion of what is going on during an “exorcism”, there are studies proving that physical changes occur in the brain of the exorcist and the person being exorcised. Dr. Andrew Newburg, an American neuroscientist, claims, “when we have done studies of people who engaged in these kind of practices, where people have these incredible experiences, there are all kinds of changes that are going on inside these people’s brains and inside these people’s bodies which can make them think things, hear things, feel things that are not actual-

ly there.” What’s more, it is clear that these girls have been forced into the business. Perhaps they have not had their arms twisted, but they have been subjected to a culture and a brand of extreme Christian rhetoric from a young age, which has set them on a dangerous and marginalised path. The influence of Bob Larson and the culture he is part of has not allowed the girls to make informed decisions about their own lives and beliefs. The kicker to this unfortunate situation, and what makes it hard to pass judgment on the teenage exorcists, is that Brynne, Savannah, and Tess are undoubtedly sincere. It is clear from their interviews that they truly believe in what they do and that they are helping people. This places them in that grey area of morality – that of misplaced good will. One thing is clear, though: all attendees of these events would be better off exorcising Bob Larson from their lives, and demanding a full spiritual refund. Better get back the cash as well.


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Leo July 23 – August 22 Gemini May 21 – June 20 Aries March 21 – April 19 In times gone by, men would accuse women of witchcraft and drown them to keep them in line. These days, men just call them sluts and pay them less for the same job. I suggest you get angry this month and alienate all your friends with feminist tirades. It might make you unpopular now, but imagine how smug you’ll feel when women are finally treated equally. 30

Homeopathy isn’t real.

Yes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a perfectly acceptable topic for a dissertation. Never stop doing what you’re doing.

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Libra September 23 – October 22 Cancer June 21 – July 22 Taurus April 20 – May 20 *Spoiler Alert* You know how at the end of The Sixth Sense it turns out that Bruce Willis is the dead one? Something similar will happen to you this month, except with smell. Seriously, you’re the one that smells. It’s been you all along.

Normcore isn’t real.

Due to an unholy alliance between Halley’s Comet and Uranus, the gayest planet, this month marks the first anniversary of a dark wizard casting a spell on you and placing you under his thrall. I wouldn’t stress about it though, because things aren’t changing any time soon. Besides, you’re clearly into it.


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Scorpio October 23 – November 21 According to homostrology.com (my new all-time favourite website), as a Scorpio you are a ‘born mantrap’, and others are ‘intrigued and intimidated by your pronounced stinger’. Much like everything else on homostrology, this is one hundred percent true. Snaps for you.

Aquarius January 20 – February 18 Fellow Aquarian and world respected medium Derek Acorah got into hot water last year after claiming he had convened with the spirit of a deceased Madeline McCann. Let that be a lesson to you this month. No one appreciates real talent.

Sagittarius November 22 – December 21 It’s only a matter of time before people realise you haven’t seen, and have no intention of seeing, 12 Years a Slave.

S CO P ES

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prophesised by Alexis “Mystic” Mastroyiannis Capricorn December 22 – January 19 A-List celebrity cutlery smiter and fellow Capricorn Uri Gellar once said, ‘Our meaning is to make our little planet Earth a better place to live, to stop wars, disarm nuclear missiles, to stop diseases, AIDS, plague, cancer and to stop pollution’. I hope that makes you rethink some of the decisions you’ve been making recently, because, as of right now, Uri Gellar is a better person than you are.

Virgo August 23 – September 22

Pisces For centuries, monks and other February 19 – March 20 religious people blamed succubi (lady demons) and incubi (dude Your fellow Pisces and slowly imdemons) for their shameful lust ploding twink deity Justin Bieber and messy nocturnal emissions. In once said, ‘So remember, this is your case though, I’m pretty sure it’s Bieber’s world. You’re just living in just loneliness. You’ll find someone it. Bieber or die.’ Don’t we all feel eventually, but it’s just not going to like that sometimes? I know you happen this month. do.


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GHOSTBUSTING Cha rlotte Simpson ex plod es t h e m yt h o f su p ern at u ral P h o t o g rap h y

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This page: Mrs. Lincoln with spirit of Abraham Lincoln, by William Mumler. Opposite: ‘The Combermere Ghost’ by Sybell Corbet.

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host or ‘spirit’ photography arose out of the increasing interest in spiritualism during the 1860’s, and as a result of early photographic experimentation. Frequently taken at séances, ghost photographs typically take the form of a portrait of a living person, attended by a ‘ghostly figure’ often resembling a deceased family member. Looking at the photographs now, the doctoring of most of these photographs seems ex-

traordinarily obvious; cut outs from magazines, the use of cotton wool to create the illusion of ectoplasm, double exposures, and even swapping photographic plates during development were all common techniques to produce these haunted images. The first well documented examples of ghost photos were taken by a man named William Mumler in 1861. A Boston engraver was experimenting with self-portraiture, but when it

was developed, he discovered the image of a dead cousin standing behind him. Although now considered fakes, Mumler subsequently developed several more photographs with ghostly images of individuals, some recognizable as dead relatives and others as unknown people, the most famous example being a photograph of Mary Todd Lincoln with the spirit of her husband Abraham Lincoln leaning over her. These images greatly increased the


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popularity of spirit photography, and led to a busy trade for ‘spiritual photographers’, who cashed in on people’s common desire to see some long lost relative. Among other prominent believers in the genuine nature of these ghost photographs was Arthur Conan Doyle, and in 1891, Alfred Russell Wallace (a scientist who helped to develop the theory of evolution) voiced his opinion that spirit photography should be taken seriously. Extraordinary though it may seem, there are several unexplained mysteries which do in fact throw a proverbial spanner into the works of cynical thought. One of the best-known ghost photos is an image of Combermere Abbey library taken by Sybell Corbett in 1891. With an exposure of 15 minutes, the photograph displays a shadowy figure of an elderly man seated in a chair, despite the room being apparently unoccupied the entire time. The man was later identified as Lord Combermere, who had died in an accident five days before. Fred Getting’s book Ghosts in Photographs, pub-

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lished in 1978 and written with the intention of proving the genuine nature of so-called “spiritual materialism” also illustrates several photographic enigmas, notably Edward Wyllie’s photograph of a Mr J.R. Mercer with an image of his wife: “the likeness itself, which Mercer attested to, could not have been derived in such a way, as she had been buried for sixty-nine years, and no daguerreotype, painting or screened block could have been made of her during her lifetime.” It is important to note that early cameras had very long exposures, during which the subject had to remain perfectly still. Thus it was fairly common for “ghostly” images to appear when a subject moved or left the frame before the exposure was complete. Also, general access to photographs was limited and so understanding of the development process was not fully understood by many people, especially during the early phases of spirit photography, and thus subtle errors or specks of dust could create the appearance of ghostly figures.

As photographical technology advanced, so too did the exposure of many ghost photographs as fake. And yet, many people still sit on the fence when it comes to the legitimacy of these images, and despite technological advances and an increasingly cynical society which believes in consumerism if anything at all, the ghost investigating phenomenon continues. Online forums offer advice on the best ghost hunting conditions and call for submissions of ‘genuine’ ghost photographs for examination; the London Fortean Society holds annual conferences on subjects such as ghosts in the underground or in hospitals and theatres, Sarah Sparkes’ has a blog detailing her investigations into the haunted Senate House in the University of London and ghost photo-editing apps mean anyone’s happy snaps can include an ‘extra’. The fact remains it is unclear with many older photographs what method was used; whether they are all fakes, or tricks of the light, or are they actually real?

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#EВРОМАЙДАН AND THE SPECTRE OF TRUTH IN THE MEDIA Is Tw itter is brea king t h e illu sio n s o f p o lit ical cen so rsh ip ? Words a nd a rt w o rk b y R u b y Fran klan d .

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In the digital age, we are accosted by such an immeasureable volume of information every day, it is often difficult to know what to believe. The media itself is a subjective force, and reaching an absolute ideal of ‘the truth’ is impossible. But in a country like Ukraine, where deception within the official channels is part of the everyday and journalism is a potentially life-threatening vocation, reaching ‘the truth’ becomes a most vital concept. As a generation, we are familiar with Twitter’s 140-character threshold, more often than not elucidating the culinary choices of Niall from One Direction’s lunch. After the astonishing transition from Silicon Valley toy into Middle East protest tool in 2011, Twitter has evolved into one of the most powerful political tools of our time. In the pre-smartphone era, protestors used pirate radio to communicate what was going on within a demonstration. Overseeing the mass mobilisation of thousands of people over the air waves was no easy task. Now protest has changed for good and it’s down to the organisation, accessibility and rapidity of the hashtag. While Niall was enjoying “#Gymtime” on Nov 21, 2013, the face of Ukrainian politics was shifting dra-

matically. President Yanukovych abruptly announced he would not sign an association agreement that would mean closer ties with the European Union. It was taken as a sign of Yanukovych’s move closer to Russia and triggered the scenes that filled our television screens. But can we ever truly trust what we are told, as every form of media places a lens in front of reality, even (dare I say it) our most revered BBC. ‘...ever yo n e’s o p in io n has t h e p o t en t ial f o r intern at io n al p resen ce. . . ’ Luckily we can rely on a reasonable neutral platform of expression. However, many news-outlets in Ukraine are financed by wealthy investors and reflect the political and economic interests of their owners. Protestors were vilified by the government as violent extremists. The Ukrainian parliament even passed a series of laws that essentially banned all forms of protest. Meanwhile, the largely state controlled TV ignored the riots entirely. But the #Євромайдан (Euromaidan) revolution in Ukraine broke through this fog of political censorship. Among the millions of opinions streamed online everyday, corrupt

governments can no longer propagate their own artifices of control. Knowledge of what is actually going on is fundamental in mobilising a political movement. The protestors’ raid on the empty Ukrainian presidential compound streamed the findings of the luxury mansion (complete with a zoo) live through feed updates. Protest in the modern age is breaking through the enchantments of political censorship, with twitter providing the essential tool for organised protest. As brave journalists continue to fight oppression and falsification, understanding the power of communication channels has never been so important. But now that everyone’s opinion has the potential for international presence, Twitter does not necessarily have all the answers, as Blackpool beautician Gemma Worrall’s insightful tweet about the UK prime minster’s involvement demonstrates: “If barraco barner is our president why is he getting involved in Russia.” The truth (whatever it may be), as Dumbledore rightfully stated, “is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”


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MAKE your own

FORTUNE TELLER D e c l a n H e n e s y ’s i n g e n i o u s i n v e n t i o n w i l l t a k e y o u b a c k t o y o u r p l a y g r o u n d g l o r y d a y s . Just add Scissors. 36

H

umanity has always sought to shed light on life’s greatest questions, and our history is littered with examples of humans peering into the shadows and consulting the occult. Paper fortune tellers are no exception to this rule, playing host to a rich and varied history. Their beginnings can be traced as far back as Ancient Egypt, where papyrus versions are known to have to been a favourite of the pharaohs. They were used by the ancient monarchs to decide which days were fortuitous for the buildings of pyramids, boat trips down the Nile, and the persecution of Jews. Some of the oldest hieroglyphics show Horus, the falcon-headed God, consulting a fortune teller in his cosmic quest to bag a date with the Goddess Isis. The next great people to utilise the supernatural powers of the fortune teller were the Ancient Greeks. Aristotle famously used them in his studies, telling his pupil, Alexander the Great, that they were ‘not only really really fun, but also really really accurate in telling the future and stuff.’ Similarly, they saw unprecedented popularity in the Ro-

man Empire with Ovid believing that Julius Caesar would have seen his death coming if only he had consulted his ‘paper of the Gods.’ With the fall of Rome they fell out of use for many centuries, being deemed as pagan superstition, but with the rise of witch-hunts in the late medieval period we see their popularity rise once more. The majority of witch accusations are said to have involved these ‘pypre tyllres of fortone’. With the dawn of the Enlightenment people in the West began to doubt the power of the fortune teller, banishing them to the realm of the schoolyard and bestowing childish names on the mystic paper seers such as salt cellar, cootie catcher, chatterbox, and whirlybird. But now you know the true history, the true power behind that playground pastime. They say the future is a fragile thing, as fragile perhaps, as a piece of paper.


The Occult Edition

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Exetera Magazine

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Exetera Magazine

The Occult Edition

C O N T R I B U T E to the

38

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The theme of our Summer ‘14 edition will be ‘Eros’. If you are interested in contributing, please get in touch with submissions@exeteramagazine.com, and keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter feeds for an announcement of the submission deadline.


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Do o r- to - d o o r se r v i c e

The Occult Edition  

Spring 2014

The Occult Edition  

Spring 2014

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