Note: Before you read the article below, please read the following disclaimer, made necessary by some of the comments this post has generated.
These coins are not evil. They are cheap bits of plastic from some manufacturer in China. They have no special qualities, no magic powers. There is no witch named “Avagnanian Coishousness of Bepsigosity” – that’s just nonsense from a writer of satire. He might as well have used “A Vague Consciousness of BepsiCola.” There are no witches in this world. A lot of people who want to be one, and pretend they are, but dark magic and fortune telling and bad luck and the evil eye are all products of people’s imaginations.
Well, let me backpedal a bit.
Somehow, I managed to come into possession of one of these little plastic gems:
At any rate, here it is. Being a linguist by profession, I was curious about the inscription – whether it was sheer garbage or was based on anything real. I found a lovely description, completely tongue-in-cheek, at The Captain’s Blog:
This is a warning for aspiring pirates intent on purchasing a bag full of plastic novelty coins. Be aware that the brand of plastic coins bearing the legend “AVAG CO BEPSIG” are enchanted. That’s right, enchanted….
At our very first PiratePalooza I made the mistake of buying just such a bag of Avag Co Bepsig coins and made a fair show of giving them out whenever possible. Yet, when I returned to port I found that I still had a good many of the coins in me purse. Over the course of the year I continued to find more of the coins. Some in my bed, some in the settee, some in the stern of my autocarriage. Every time I found an Avag Co Bepsig coin I returned it to me leather coinpurse, full in the knowledge that I had them collected, each and every one.
And still I continued to find more, in places I thought I’d looked before. It’s fairly ridiculous how these things seem to breed in captivity, easily outstripping the population of coat hangers rutting in me washroom.
Without a doubt, my collection of these bewitched plastic coins outnumbers my original purchase and I am now consigned to the fact that some day in the future my ship will be awash in these devilish discs of dementia, certain to sink ‘neath their accursed weight and artificial shininess. For now I can only serve as example to those of you lucky enough yet to avoid these shiny promises from the heart of Avagnanian Coishousness of Bepsigosity, for that it what it turns out the name means.
Avagnanian Coishousness be a person… a Bane Witch of terrible antiquity and uncertain designs upon humanity, Cap’n Drew in particular. And even though I now know the source of me curse don’t expect me to take it all noble-like. No, no.
Know this, me hearties: I’ll take no pity upon any of you, so watch your backs. I’ll be certain to try slipping one of me famous cursed coins into your open pockets, purses, pouches and gaping glimpses of cleavage.
You’ve been warned.
Of course, this is all in fun. But the world is so full of a number of things, I suppose we should all be yanking our hair out in frustration if we knew the depth and breadth of human gullibility. Over at Ripoff Report, I found this letter from a dear soul who was so glad she was warned about the evil enchantment that lay on these coins, received in one of these fraudulent “prayer letter” scams:
You have sent me prayer letters. The one I recently opened on Oct. 16, 2011 although you sent it in May 2011. I just came across it . Although the letter was right on in what I was specifically praying for..you placed 2 coins in the letter to put one in my house that fiances will increase in my house & the other to place in my purse for financial increase. Once i did this & went to bed all night I could not sleep God woke me & told me to google the words on the coins they say “Avag Co Bepsig” I googled these words & discovered they are a WITCH”S name. You see I am a born again believer in Christ Jesus He Is My Lord & Savior..He Promises To Not Let His Children Walk In Darkness…I was at my dad’s house who is a Pastor & has won many to Christ. I was going to put one coin in his house but The Holy Spirit kept telling me NO!!! You see I am EXPOSING YOU !!! THis witch turned a man’s coins to plastic…if you people are really of Christ Jesus why would’nt God show you about these coins before you started sending them out??? God Promises Not To Let THose Who Truly Love Him Walk In Darkness…He EXPOSED you to me!!!
Now, in the interest of full disclosure I need to point out that I have a spiritual walk of my own, but I’ve always done my best to temper my faith with reason. Not doing so leads to madness, or to the kind of attitude one sees above, where “if you read it in the Bible, or if you see it on the Internet, it has to be true.” In the end, it’s scary to think the kinds of world views upon which ordinary people, legislators, and national leaders can base their behavior.
In a recorded interview which once existed on YouTube, Richard Dawkins fielded a question from a Muslim who asked whether atheists could judge right from wrong in the absence of an absolute morality. Professor Dawkins proceeded to shred the question simply by making reference to things like the beating of women and punishment for apostasy, and summed up his analysis by saying that if these kinds of things are what absolute morality brings, he’d rather live without it; instead, he favors a morality that is developed and tested and tried and revised by the strength of reason and humanity. I’m put in mind of the four-way test of the Rotarians, used as a guide for business and personal relationships:
Of the things we think, say or do
- Is it the TRUTH?
- Is it FAIR to all concerned?
- Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
There’s a lot of wiggle-room in the first one, because among humans “truth” is hard to ferret out, except within the realm of pure science; but the last three ask the same question in different ways, to wit, “will it raise the human condition?”
Whatever we believe, we cannot afford to go through life not asking this question. Religion and humanism have as their ultimate goal to make their practitioners better people. If you’re still a jerk, it’s not working.
The Old Wolf has spoken.
 Now don’t jump down my throat about inconsistencies here… one of these days I’ll get my thoughts together in a more comprehensive essay about why I believe what I do, although a brief summary might be extrapolated from this entry. After that, feel free to shred my Weltanschauung if it brings you joy, but I’m pretty certain that the exercise will be entirely academic.