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Episode Eighty Five

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Monstrous Agonies E85S03 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Eighty Five.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through rock music, a voice saying “-second referendum-”, a voice saying “-I'm getting there-” and a voice saying “-oh my God, jump, jump, jump!-” before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-until the entire state of Kansas is reduced to rubble and void.

Up next tonight, it's time for our weekly advice segment where I answer listener's questions from across the liminal world. First up, a listener trying to tackle prejudice at home.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

My parents are from two different genuses. It wasn’t a big thing when they first got together, but it did mean that, in order to end up with my brother and I, there was a lot of stress. The kind of stress that, in the end, they just couldn’t let go of.

So they divorced. Which is fine! Obviously that's fine. And it’s been years so of course by now it’s- it's- [sighs] It's fine. [pause] Except that, it's not. [bitter laugh] Because they both really hate each other and… And it-it... [sighs]

The thing is, you might think that my brother and I would be mixed, but actually, the way we were conceived, we basically take after one genus or the other. My brother takes after Mum, who we live most of the time, but I’m the same genus as my dad.

The bad blood between my parents has left my mum with some… not great opinions of people of his genus. Not just my dad, the- the whole genus. You know. The- Well the one... I... belong to.

Which is really not great when so much of what you hear is, “Oh, well, people of that sort just don’t know how to properly care for their fur," or, "Well, they have no control over their... base urges." And you’re one of those people.

[getting upset] It’s like she doesn’t even realise that I’m there? I'm right. There. Hearing every insult she comes up with. She insists she’s not talking about me but it’s- Well it's getting harder and harder to believe she doesn’t- [steadies their breathing] It's getting harder to believe that she doesn't hate me just as much as she hates my dad.

We’ve been fighting a lot for other reasons. But every time I bring up the stuff about Dad she just shuts me down! How do I get her to understand that her hatred of my father reflects onto the rest of my genus as well? That insulting him is hurting me? It- [sighs] It really hurts! [sniffs]

I love my parents, and Dad certainly isn’t flawless either. But I can’t work out how to get past the idea my mum... [deep breath] secretly hates me.

The Presenter (as themselves)

This sounds like a very difficult situation, listener. I'm sorry you're going through this. I'm going to assume that moving out isn't an option, either because of your age or other factors. Instead, let's see what you can do at home to improve matters.

First of all, have you spoken to your brother about this? How does he feel about your mother's outbursts? He may not be the same genus as your father, but it's still part of his heritage – and you're still his sibling.

He might be able to give you some much-needed support, either by challenging your mother on your behalf or just listening when you need to vent.

You say the divorce was years ago. I respect that an acrimonious separation is not something most people simply bounce back from. But it doesn't sound as if your mother has made much progress at all over the years in working through her feelings.

Her prejudices are deeply entrenched, and I want you to understand that she, and she alone, is responsible for unlearning that prejudice. Don't take it upon yourself to fix her entire world-view.

Concentrate instead on setting strong, healthy boundaries around her behaviour. Remember, good boundaries are clear, specific, and include consequences. Something like, uh, “When you say X about my genus, it makes me feel Y. If you continue to talk like that, I will leave the room.” And then – this is the hard part – follow through.

This won't necessarily change your mother's mind about your genus. I'm sorry but again, that's on her. It will, however, remind her that you do, in fact, belong to the genus in question, and hopefully teach her to bite her tongue around you, if nothing else.

In the future, you may have more freedom to choose how and when you spend time with your mother. Until then, I hope this advice can help you get her to treat you with the basic respect you deserve.

[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]

The Presenter

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[End background music]

The Presenter

Our second letter tonight is from a listener feeling anxious about the future.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I'm a bit of a late bloomer compared to most oracles. Usually those powers set in around the start of puberty – at least for sapio oracles, I-I know the timelines are all different for different genuses. But I didn't get my first vision until I was almost 30.

Maybe it's something to do with being trans. It feels like I'm coming to all sorts of rites of passage and milestones rather later than everyone else. [laughs] Then again, the thought of dealing with this at 13 is, uh. Oof! [laughs]

So, yeah, it was a shock! But I mean, I've learnt a lot of surprising things about myself in the last few years – what's one more! [laughs]

The problem is the nature of my visions. I-I do my best, using the techniques I learnt in my training, but I can never seem to gain much clarity in my second sight. I come away with ideas and impressions, gestures towards a-a possible outcome, but... [sighs] Nothing more.

And I'm- I'm always very clear with my clients that that's the level of service they can expect. If they want something more definite, they can seek out a-another, more power oracle! And, uh, pay for the difference. [laughs]

So far, nobody seems to have minded. They take what I can give them and interpret it as best they can. But that's what frightens me.

So much of oracular history has been shaped by people making incorrect assumptions about what a vision means, or bringing about the events they tried to escape literally because they tried to escape them.

The- Oh, the thought-! [breaks off and sniffs] Oh, excuse me. [upset] The thought that I might see something and not give someone proper warning, or that- that something terrible will come to pass because of a vision of mine... [breathing rapidly] Um. Oh!

I'm convinced something dreadful is going to happen because of something I've seen. It- [sighs] It's only a matter of time. Please – what can I do?

The Presenter (as themselves)

On the one hand, listener, I agree with you. It very likely is only a matter a time before someone misinterprets one of your visions, or indeed before you have a vision of something both dreadful and inevitable. Where our positions differ is that I do not believe either of these scenarios are your responsibility.

Your anxiety is telling you a story about the world and your place in it. Your first step is recognising your anxiety's story when it rears its head. Try to notice your feelings as they happen, and pay attention to the kinds of thoughts that accompany them.

For example, let's say you start to feel anxious and notice that your thoughts are running along the lines of, “The person who I just told about my vision regarding their upcoming invasion of Persia is going to mistake my warning for encouragement and in doing so, destroy the Lydian empire.”

Aside from taking comfort in the reminder that this is a concern that has dogged the steps of oracles since the very earliest days, you might also say yourself, “That is a line from the story my anxiety is telling me where I'm responsible for the leadership of an Iron Age kingdom in Asia Minor.”

Or, more probably, “That's a line from the story my anxiety is telling where I'm bad at my job,” or, “the story where I have the power to change destiny.”

You may notice that not a single one of these stories is true. However, in the moment of your anxiety, this can be difficult to believe. After all, a story needn't be true in order to elicit a profound emotional response, as any fan of fiction knows.

But they are also not very good stories. They're not well-crafted, and they're not convincing. Have you ever come across something in a piece of media that immediately pulls you out of the story? A glaring anachronism in a work of historical fiction, or characters walking an impossible route through a city you know well?

You need to find something like that, something that can pull you out of the story your anxiety is trying to tell. Your anxiety is trying to say that you're bad at your job, but you already know you're well-trained, hard working and conscientious. Suddenly, that story holds no water.

This is not an easy skill to develop. It will take time, and you will have periods of progress and periods of set-back. But in due course, I believe in your ability to tell a new story about yourself – one that recognises you as a competent, capable oracle with reasonable expectations of your skills and responsibilities. A story made all more beautiful by being true.

[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network. Community owned, community run.

[End background music]

The Presenter

It's two o'clock on Thursday morning. Next tonight, the second part of our Liminal Landscapes series, where we investigate the past and future of Britain's thaumaturgic geography. This week, we're talking islands – from St Kilda to the Isles of Scilly...

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through discordant clarinet music, a voice saying “-a longer downturn-”, a voice saying “-the end of time-” and a voice saying “-oh my gosh it's amazing-” before fading out.

Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]

H.R. Owen

Episode Eighty Five of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.

Tonight's first letter was submitted by Attystark, the second letter was from itssomethingcosmic, and this week's advert came from Rad. Thanks, friends.

If you're enjoying the show, please consider signing up for a monthly pledge at, or make a one-off donation at You can also help us grow our audience by sharing with your friends and familiars, and following us on Tumblr, @MonstrousAgonies, and on Twitter, @Monstrous_Pod.

This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.

Thanks for listening, and remember - the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.

[Fade to silence]


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