by Phil Hine
This short essay is an account of one of my most successful servitors to date.
The twin spirits of gossip and rumour have followed me about ever since I started 'doing things' on the UK magical scene. Rumours ranging from allegations of affiliation to 'dark' satanic groups to upheavals in my sex-life have whirled around and in some instances, ended up in the pages of pagan 'zines. Back in the late 80's, Pagan At The Heart magazine announced to their readers that I had become 'celibate', and followed this up with the announcement that they could name the 'lady' who overcame my will - unfortunately, they got not only the name but also the gender of the person concerned wrong, but I suppose it's the thought that counts!
At times I have become both paranoid and pissed off by the rumours I heard circulating about myself. During a particularly bad phase of feeling like this, I started working on a Gossip Hunter-Seeker-Killer servitor, whose task would be to hover around on the astral, detecting gossip and firing off a missile containing some suitably horrible runic curse. I actually got as far as 'testing' this entity - firing off a 'blank' missile at an unsuspecting colleague - just to see if it worked the way I wanted it to - before realising that I was going a teensy wee bit over the top about the whole thing.
Instead of thinking, "Get the Bastards" I began to look at the whole issue of gossip & rumour in a new light. After all, if people are talking about you 'behind your back', they could be said to be feeding you energy. As Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman wisely note in Good Omens: "Notoriety wasn't as good as fame, but was heaps better than obscurity." Bearing this in mind, I decided to create a servitor that actively worked to generate gossip and rumour, rather than counter it. After all, what's worse, being talked about - or not being talked about? Those magicians who leap to the defensive of their parent organisation every time someone drops a snide remark about them being paranoid would do well to remember this, and count themselves bloody lucky that people bother to think about them at all. I do remember, whilst being a member of a certain large international magical order, some guy approaching me and hesitantly asking "Is it true that to join the *.*.*. you have to be able to visualise an object so that other people can see it too?" Naturally I said nothing to deny or confirm this. Of course, this is the sort of rumour one likes to hear about one's organisation. But if you want people to think this sort of thing, you also have to be prepared to accept the people who accuse you of being closet Christians or not eating babies or whatever. Its' a sort of Dayside/Backside Tree of Life metaphor, I guess. Particularly as if you continually deny anything that's even a bit dodgy, people will suss out that you're talking through your backside. A few years ago, at the Oxford Thelemic Symposium, a delegation from the Temple of Set did a presentation on how nice they really all were. Their spokesperson mentioned some of the rumours circulating - animal sacrifices, rent boys, drugs etc. and dismissed them all, saying that the TOS had been unfairly maligned. Sitting there, I thought, well what's the point then? I'd have been more impressed if they'd said - "Yes we do do unspeakable rituals with sheep and street urchins - and WHY NOT?"
Anyhow, I ended up deciding that gossip about me was, by and large, not all that bad. Not only are people feeding me 'power', they're also doing some P.R. - and (though this is stretching the idea somewhat) - some of the rumours might act like a kind of enchantment - without me having to do anything. I'd already heard two rumours about me owning various shops in Leeds, you see. So GoHu's task was to encourage people to talk about me, and generate rumours - and ensure that I got to hear about it eventually. Now as I've said, by the time I got around to doing this, there was some level of gossip/rumour being generated anyway. So all GoHu had to act as a kind of 'amplifier' as well as receiving rumours and beaming them in my direction.
I won't bore you with the details of creating this servitor, except to unashamedly plug my book Condensed Chaos (New Falcon Publications 1995) wherein you'll find most of my views on creating bog-standard servitors.
Since GoHu was created in 1992, rumours that have got back to
me have included:
- I owned Id Aromatics in Leeds
- I owned the Atlantis Bookshop in London
- That I was planning to buy a goth nightclub in Birmingham (someone actually rung up to ask me if it was true!!)
- That I'm a Vampire (See "Hearts of Darkness" by John Parker, and "The World's Greatest Unsolved Mysteries" - by the vice-presidents of ASSAP - who should know better).
- That "Phil Hine" is a pseudonym used by several different people.
- so I think I can safely count GoHu as a successful servitor!
Post Scriptum (October 1997)
The latest rumour to reach my shell-like ears is from some people on the UK 'Odinist' scene who apparently believe that I bugger ex-Chaos International editor Ian Read on a regular basis. News to both of us!