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  • Writer's pictureH.R. Owen

Episode Seventy Three

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Monstrous Agonies E73S03 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Seventy Three.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through dance music, a voice saying “-experience-”, a voice saying “-you can trust-”, a voice stammering, and pop music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-a soft, unlikely blessing, wrapped in linen and lace.

Up next, our weekly advice segment. Our first letter tonight is from a listener concerned about a friend's magical practice.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

Let me just say to start with that my friend is lovely, an absolute sweetheart! When I was sure I wanted to be turned, she put me in touch with my sire, and the haematophage lifestyle suits me down to the- Well! Down to the grave dirt, if you like. I really couldn't be more grateful to have her in my life.

She's a divination witch and a talented one. Her card shuffles flow through her fingers like water and she's got some of the best scrying insights I've ever heard when she looks into her rose quartz crystal ball.

When she started on this path, I'll be honest, I was a little doubtful about how good divination would be for her. She has a gambling addiction and her practice has more to do with chance and dice than I'm comfortable with. She's currently living with me as she goes through eviction and some other pretty nasty consequences of her addiction, so I think I've earned the right to be cautious. But I still want to do my best to support her however I can.

I... [sighs] I think she's been counting cards. Tarot cards to be exact. She never gets a card that tells her she needs to change, everything is always golden on the horizon and she's going to come up smelling of roses no matter what. Probability just doesn't work that way, no matter how lucky you are.

She denies it every time I bring it up, but I've had a couple of chances to observe her deck and I can see there are some marks she's made to the backs of the cards. Tell-tale signs that she's not keeping things on the level. There's other stuff, too. I've been around her long enough to recognise a very potent luck charm when I sense one. And I know her new dice are weighted, I'm not thick.

If she just wanted to fool herself into having continuous good days and seeing the world through rose quartz tinted glasses, that would be one thing. But she's started offering her card reading services to the public to help support herself.

Don't get me wrong, I fully support her trying to get back on her feet and telling people what they want to hear is very profitable. But I'm worried about it all coming up snake eyes.

I don't know too much about the craft, but from your show I know that it's all about intent… What happens when your intent is to cheat? How can I help to prevent her from doing unintended harm to herself and others? Or am I overreacting to all of this? I just... I just want her to be alright. Please help!

The Presenter (as themselves)

I don't think you're overreacting, listener. Supporting an addict is not the same as supporting behaviours which feed that addiction. Far from it. Nor do I think that this behaviour is without its risks. A the very least, it is a deeply unethical business practice that could have serious repercussions if she were discovered.

Thaumaturgically speaking, I don't think she's putting anybody in harm's way precisely. You're right that intention is nine tenths of the law when it comes to magical practice. But in this case, I'm not sure there's any real magical practice being undertaken. She's not reading the cards, after all. She's pretending.

Even if she were, divination is not a two way street. Fate affects the cards, not the other way round. She isn't going to change anybody's future by giving them a faulty reading, you can put that anxiety to rest.

It might help to remind her that she has a great deal to bring to the table as a powerful and skilled practitioner. Anyone can pretend to read the future. Why should she sink to that, when she's able to do the real thing?

The answer, I suspect, lies in her addiction. Just because divination uses similar tools as gambling – cards and dice, for example – Doesn't mean they're actually related. You can't “win” a tarot spread, after all.

But unfortunately, it doesn't sound as if your friend is using those objects as tools of her craft at all. It sounds as if she's chasing the thrill of positive readings. And that is another thing altogether, especially given her history.

Addiction is not a moral failing, or a demonstration of weak character. It's an illness, and your friend needs help to get better. However, in order to receive that help, she needs to want it. You can't force her to be well.

What you can do is lay the groundwork for when she is feeling ready. The first step is being open and honest about your concerns. Let her know about the behaviours you've noticed, but remember to keep a positive tone. You're not accusing her. You're speaking as someone who loves her, and wants to help.

Your friend might not be ready to stop this behaviour. Addiction has all manner of underlying causes, and until she can deal with the root of hers, she will likely fall back on these compulsions.

It's not your job to make her well. All you can do is be honest about how you feel, and make it clear that you're there if and when she's ready. The rest is up to her.

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

The Presenter

Sponsored by No Hands Hank's Big Boy Bowling Business: bowling balls for the dactylically challenged. Proud members of the Nightfolk Network.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Our second letter this evening is from a young listener facing some big changes.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

Hello. I have a little problem. Um. Hm. [sighs] Well, once upon a time there was a little girl and the little girl was very clever and very good at maths and she had little wings and was able to talk to animals and make glitter!

And my mummy was good at it too. But then when my mummy turned twelve she stopped being different and lost her wings and became like everybody. Like a sapio.

So when Clara and Naomi were telling me about what they wanted to be when they grow up – Clara wants to be a firefighter and Naomi wants to be a teacher – and they asked me what I wanted to be. And I-I didn’t know and they said that I would be a very good zookeeper because I could just ask the animals what they wanted.

And then I, um. And then I started to cry. I cried so much that my teacher called my mummy and my mummy asked what's wrong? And I t- [sighs] I told her I was sad that I couldn’t be a zookeeper [tearing up] because I wouldn’t be able to talk to any of the animals.

She told me, well, most zookeepers don't talk to animals, and she didn’t miss talking to animals at all. She told me some stories that meant that she was much happier now that she wasn’t so different to everybody else.

But I don’t think I’ll be happier! I don’t know if I’ll be able to be friends with Clara and Naomi when I stop being a creature, because they’re going to be creatures forever and- and I'm... going to change. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go to the creature youth club any more. [crying] And how am I going to make friends in secondary school?

I know I could be turned back into a creature if I really wanted, but a lot of the ones that turn like how I am now and they can't make glitter and they don't have little wings and- [breaks off with a sniff] B-But maybe I’ll have to. Mummy doesn’t know any creatures. She doesn’t really talk to Naomi or Clara’s mummies, and they went to school with each other! I just want to stay friends forever.

The Presenter (as themselves)

Hello, little one. Thank you so much for your letter. It sounds like you're going through some difficult, scary things at the moment, and you've done just the right thing by asking for help. That's just what we should do when things are difficult or scary – find someone we trust, and ask them for help. Well done.

Before I get to my advice for you, sometimes people get upset when they hear their letters read out on the radio. It can feel different, hearing it read out loud, and feel like they're hearing it all new. Or maybe they get nervous about the answer I might give them, or all sorts of jumbled up, difficult feelings that they didn't expect when they wrote to me.

If you're feeling upset, or nervous, or jumbled up, I'd like you to take a big breath in. [inhales] Just like that. And hold it for a moment. That's it. Now, let it go. [exhales] And another – big breath in... [inhales] Hold it... And out again. [exhales] And one more time. Big breath in. [inhales] Hold it. And out. [exhales] That's better. Even I'm feeling nice and calm now!

So, let's talk about your letter. The first thing to say is that it's perfectly alright that you feel differently about growing up and the changes that involves than your mummy did. You are your own person, and you get to feel your own feelings.

It sounds like you're going through lots of changes at the moment, and I know change can be scary. But remember, you've already been through lots of changes already. You aren't the same now as you were when you were a very little girl. I bet you're taller, for one thing, and cleverer, and you've learnt how to do maths and write letters and all sorts of other things.

Some of those changes were things you couldn't control, like getting taller. Others, you had to work hard at, like learning how to do maths. But you put your mind to it, and got better and better.

You can't help getting older, little one. Nor all the changes that getting older brings – whether that's not having wings any more, or just getting even taller! [laughs softly] But there are things that you can work hard at.

Staying friends with Clara and Naomi is one of those things. It might be more difficult, if you're not at the same school any more, but you can still talk to each other, have sleepovers, or write letters – you're very good at writing letters.

That goes for making friends at secondary school, too. You might not be sure straight away who's going to be your friend and who isn't. That's alright. The most important thing is that you work hard at being kind, and honest, and brave, and most of all, at being yourself. I think you'll find who your friends are going to be sooner than you think.

You don't have to be a creature to be friends with creatures. But remember, you're not becoming a sapio. When we grow up, we don't become different people. We're the same person, just... different. You might not have your wings any more, but you'll still be you – and who you are is a creature, just as special as you've always been.

I think it would be a good idea if you talked about your feelings with other grown-ups you trust, whether that's a teacher at school, someone from your youth group, or a librarian. And if your feelings get too big for you, just remember – deep breath in, hold, and out, as many times as you need to.

As for talking to animals, I'm sure you'd be a wonderful zookeeper either way, if it was something you set your mind to. But there's lots of ways to talk to animals, from spells and amulets to psychic connection or physical transformation. Just, uh, something to look into when you're older.

For now though, it's well past your bedtime. Snuggle up, settle down, and get some sleep, little one. You've got all sorts of adventures to go on, and you're going to need your energy.

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

The Presenter

131.3FM – the voice of liminal Britain.

[End background music]

The Presenter

It's two o'clock on Thursday morning. Now, from snacks and heat pads to sedatives and manacles, we chat to members of three transformative genuses about the must-have items in their pocket transformation kits...

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-what should I do-”, opera singing, dance music and a voice saying “-joy-” before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

Episode Seventy Three of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.

Tonight's first letter came from Taze, and the second letter was by Matty O.K. Smith, creator of Neighbourly, a fabulous spooky podcast that I highly recommend if you haven't listened already. And this week's advert was submitted by Bug. Thanks, friends.

Hello and thank you to our latest supporter on Patreon, Nick. You can join them 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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