on magic and prayer

I’m a high school teacher, and school starts again in two days. I’ve come in to school to do a little last minute prep, the sun is setting fast, and there isn’t a living soul in the whole building except for the security guard at the main gate and the resident cat. As I was leaving I got the urge to pray for the year ahead. Maybe even pray over my desk and my chair (I’m that nervous) for blessings this coming year.

Then it hit me: is this prayer, or magic? Continue reading “on magic and prayer”

on neglected commanders of the roman world: surena

Sources Plutarch, Life of Crassus (17-33); Cassius Dio (40.14-27)

His time General Surena (we don’t actually know his real name; Surena was the name of his clan) was born in 84BC into an unstable time, and would become one of the most celebrated military commanders of the Parthian Empire. The Parthians had originated as nomadic horsemen from northern Iran, but having fought their way into the Seleucid (Syrian Greek) Empire they gradually replaced it as the major power of the near east. By the early 1st century BC however, Rome’s eastward adventures had brought it into direct contact with Parthia; though relations between the two were initially cordial if cautious, things took a turn for the worse in 69BC, when Roman general Lucullus invaded Armenia (near Parthian territory). This would mark the start of a 300 year-long see-saw struggle as both Parthia and Rome claimed Armenia as their own. It was on the cusp of this interminable war that Surena came of age.
Continue reading “on neglected commanders of the roman world: surena”

on the nazi occult and evil

I’ve always had a morbid interest in the Nazi occult. Something about the inherent evil of the regime coupled with the possibility that it tapped supernatural forces to further its goals. Add to that the kookiness of the whole thing, the weird personalities involved, the freaky science, the esoteric history and mysticism behind the runes and artifacts, and the terrible majesty of the Nazi war machine, and you have something darkly fascinating.

Now one idea related to the Nazi occult is the Fourth Reich – the possibility that some remnant of the Nazi regime survived 1945 and went into hiding, possibly in South America, Antarctica, the centre of the earth, on the Moon (the possibilities get sillier each time), and has been secretly plotting revenge. So of course this idea is rich fodder for all sorts of fiction. Now my interest led me to two particular comic book series: M Mignola’s Hellboy, and K Hirano’s Hellsing. Both involve some kind of Fourth Reich (in the former, an occult-obsessed fifth column guided by evil gods, and in the latter, genetically-engineered, vampiric panzergrenadiers), and oddly enough both shed some useful light on evil. Continue reading “on the nazi occult and evil”

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