Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thoughts on "Psychic Attack"

SoulJournings has an interview up with Jason Miller of Strategic Sorcery in which Jason discusses his views on psychic and magical attacks. Jason and I have disagreed on this topic a number of times in the past, both here and over at his blog. He believes that effective magical attacks are relatively common, whereas I'm of the opinion that a person claiming to be under such attack is much more likely to be mentally ill than under some magician's curse. Some of that disagreement is undoubtedly due to differences in our experiences. Just about every person who has ever approached me for help with a psychic attack situation has turned out to have serious psychological problems. From the interview it sounds like Jason, on the other hand, has run across a lot of people who he believes are dealing with genuine magical attacks.

Throughout the last 20 years, even before I started officially doing magick professionally, people always seemed to find me when they needed this kind of help. Even other Witches and Magicians, with more years of practice behind them, have looked for help because when the situation came up, they were not prepared for it.

As an aside, it really surprises me that anyone with years of experience practicing magick wouldn't be able to do an effective banishing ritual, but I guess the question here is whether these people had years of practice or years of study. Just knowing how to do something won't necessarily solve a problem if you have little or no experience applying that knowledge. There are methods you can use to cast a curse that can't be easily banished, but most practitioners I've run across aren't familiar with them so I doubt that they are widely used. The LBRP/LBRH combination will shut down most curses, and anything that can survive a banishing field like that can still be stopped by a decent Saturn or Mars evocation. Those two planets can be used for cursing, but they can also shut curses down because they are the "rulers" of that class of phenomena.

Though it is true that many people who seek help with psychic attack are either bringing their problems on themselves or just having a normal run of bad luck, it is also true that some practitioners, especially those with training in Western systems like Wicca or Ceremonial Magic, tend to dismiss any claim at psychic attack out of hand. This is because, in an attempt to make Witchcraft and magick more palatable to the general public, the books all reiterate how safe it all is and how no real Witch or Magician would ever do harmful magick because of the Wiccan Rede or Karma or something like that.

If somebody comes to me with a claim of psychic attack, I do have a tendancy to dismiss it - but not because I believe in the Wiccan Rede or the bizarre Western notion of how Karma works. I also couldn't care less whether or not magick seems "palatable to the general public." Rather, I think it's a simple matter of mathematics. In my experience only a small percentage of the population has the requisite combination of aptitude and training for producing effective macrocosmic magical effects, and while most of those magicians will cast a curse on someone from time to time it isn't what they spend the majority of their time doing. On the other side of the equation, about one person in four in our society has some form of mental illness. These numbers suggest that while there are a lot of people with psychological problems, far fewer will have actually been targeted with curses performed by effective macrocosmic magicians. However, Jason follows the comments above with a good point that I had not really considered.

The truth is that most magickal attacks do not emanate from other people, but from spirits or nature or places that are reacting to how our human lifestyle (air pollution, damming rivers, dumping trash, country music, etc.) infringes onto their space. The primary role of the shaman was to address these imbalances, and even today, this is a huge part of medicine in traditional cultures.

My image of a psychic attack is one individual or group using some sort of magick against another, and perhaps this is a bit shortsighted of me. I tend to separate out curses cast by individuals or groups from what Jason calls a "crossed condition," which is caused by exposure to certain sorts of environmental magical energy rather than the result of an targeted attack. Jason groups them together on the grounds that from a practical standpoint they are addressed in much the same way, so perhaps part of our disagreement over this is just terminology. Most magicians including myself have at times found themselves in situations where something environmental seems to be disturbing their spiritual energy, though I will say that I have yet to come across one of those that survives my usual daily practice regimen. Also, as far as I can tell magicians who keep up a solid, regular practice seem to be less susceptible to them.

That said, attacks from other Magicians and Witches do happen more often than most people are willing to admit. Anyone that stocks a lot of material used in Hoodoo, for instance, will find that cursing materials are a big seller.

I don't deny that there are a lot of people out there trying to curse other people, but what I dispute is how effective those people really are. Casting a spell with a targeted, measurable macrocosmic effect is not easy. If it were the effectiveness of magick would be an undisputed scientific fact. Part of the reason that spells are so difficult to test empirically is that so few people can perform them in such a way that they produce noticeable, tangible results. An effective curse consists of a lot more than hitting up the local occult store for some Anna Riva war water and splashing it on somebody's doorstep. The power comes from the magician, the materials just help to focus the effect.

Often, however, people that have been cursed or suspect that they have been cursed will have someone in mind as the attacker. They either know that they have ticked off someone that knows magick and is not morally opposed to using it for justice or revenge (largely a matter of perspective), or they know someone that might seek a professional’s services in doing the same.

One of the things that makes me most skeptical about any claim of psychic attack is when the purported victim has no idea why they have been cursed or who might have done it. I would go so far as to say that I think anybody who is under a curse cast by a magician (as opposed to a crossed condition or other environmental effect) is going to know what they did to provoke it and who they did it to. That's because cursing is not generally done casually or on a whim by practitioners experienced enough to get tangible results. This is also true of individuals who hire magicians to cast curses for them - I have a hard time imagining somebody paying a practitioner a lot of money to cast a curse "just for the heck of it."

Thankfully, the treatment for imaginary attack and real attack is the same. Just do the cleansing and protection; It wont hurt. If people keep coming back again and again because they are claiming that they are constantly under attack, then there is a good chance that they are imagining it or creating the situation for drama.

See, the latter is what I keep running into whenever I get approached by somebody who's supposedly "under attack." In those situations, psychiatric drugs generally work better than counter-curses. It's always possible that in reality I'm the one with the unusual set of experiences and genuine attacks are much more common than I currently believe, but so far I haven't seen much evidence of it in my daily life. It would be interesting to try and put together some sort of a study to resolve the question, if such a thing is even possible given all the variables that would have to be taken into account.

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble

21 comments:

Jason Miller, said...

Sadly the combination of the twins and an increased load in paid magic work defending against legitimate psychic attack prevents me from spending time arguing the point ;)

Ananael Qaa said...

That's all right, Jason. We've discussed it enough that I think anybody who's been following our blogs has a pretty good idea of what our respective positions are on this issue. And you're certainly doing important work there.

You really do seem to be much more of a magnet for this stuff than me or any of the other magicians that I've worked with over the years, and I'd love to know what the difference is that accounts for it. You never know, maybe the real problem is that I'm a magnet for crazy folks...

Jason Miller, said...

I can tell you that one of the reasons is that I work with magicians from far more varried fields. I would bet that I deal with a lot of Santero's Voudousants, Palero's. Brujo's, and conjurepeople than you do.

These traditions are far more interested in results magick than either paganism or modern ceremonial magic of the Thelemic or GD variety.

We also have a very different idea of what it takes to make effective magick, something that I will be posting about shortly.

Lastly I would point out that mental illness and distress can be a symptom of genuine psychic attack as well as a cause of imagined psychic attack.

Ananael Qaa said...

I would bet that I deal with a lot of Santero's Voudousants, Palero's. Brujo's, and conjurepeople than you do.

That's probably true. It certainly is true since around 2000 or so, since what work I did with folks who practiced along those lines dates back to the 1990's.

These traditions are far more interested in results magick than either paganism or modern ceremonial magic of the Thelemic or GD variety.

Well, I'm doing my best to cultivate a "results oriented" attitude among ceremonialists, at least. ;-)

Lastly I would point out that mental illness and distress can be a symptom of genuine psychic attack as well as a cause of imagined psychic attack.

Sure, and there's also the both/and case where someone is mentally ill and, unrelated to that condition, also under a crossed condition or genuine attack. I just find it interesting that in my experience it always seems to be the psychological problems that these cases have in common.

lsmft said...

"In my experience only a small percentage of the population has the requisite combination of aptitude and training for producing effective macrocosmic magical effects, and while most of those magicians will cast a curse on someone from time to time it isn't what they spend the majority of their time doing."

Are we dealing with the right set for this analysis? {all people} strikes me as too large a field, whereas {'victim's' occult social circle} is a more reasonable field to deal with.

Seems to me that the worst enemies almost axiomatically begin as best friends, and that the kind of anger that motivates speeding the damnation of another almost requires that kind of close involvement.

Ananael Qaa said...

Are we dealing with the right set for this analysis? {all people} strikes me as too large a field, whereas {'victim's' occult social circle} is a more reasonable field to deal with.

That assumes that the victim has an "occult social circle." Not everyone does.

As far as statistics go I'm speaking more generally. If there are X number of effective magical practitioners in the United States and they cast Y curses per year, the most generous estimate for the total number of cursed individuals will be X * Y, and that assumes no duplication. My contention is that X * Y is a substantially lower number than 25% of our population that has some form of mental illness, which means that mental illness is a more likely explanation than a curse.

You can actually put together a sort of "Drake Equation" for this. That's the equation that astronomers use to try and estimate the likelihood of life on other planets.

T is the total number of people in a given population who use magick.
P is the percentage of those people who can cast an effective curse (represented as a value from .01 to 1.0).
C is the number of curses that each effective individual generally casts over the course of a year.
V is the maximum number of victims of curses over the course of that year. The real number is probably lower because most magicians who are willing to curse often throw multiple curses at a single target.

So we get this:

V = T * P * C

I think that my main disagreement with Jason is that I think P is a lot lower than he does. An empirical study to resolve the question would be really cool if I could figure out a good way to set one up. Parapsychology has yet to touch this idea and either of us could be wrong.

However, as is the case with crime, it's likely that anyone who is under a genuine magical attack knows their attacker. Given how curses are generally used, they probably are also involved in some sort of a dispute with the attacker. That's what I meant by this:

I would go so far as to say that I think anybody who is under a curse cast by a magician (as opposed to a crossed condition or other environmental effect) is going to know what they did to provoke it and who they did it to.

Gordon_Finn said...

The reaction to the environment is more like 'spiritual chemistry'. Mix two or more things together and you get an outcome, either advantageous or not. If you get attacked by a killer bear or hydrochloric acid spilled on your arm, you wouldn't call them a mundane curse.

While linguistically, it can be a curse, the common usage of it is not. If we were, we can say that incarnating is its own curse because it causes a major disharmony between the spirit and the material form when it pertains to magick usage and psychic abilities. And we spend more time overcoming self-made obstciles to let the magick flow more cleanly and efficiently than not. It's like ocean divers. They spend a large amount of time researching before they get out into the water and dive beneath the surface.

Jason Miller, said...

To be clear, I do not consider attacks from spirits to be simple crossed conditions. They are attacks from spirits. There is a difference.

Jason Miller, said...

As for people knowing who they are being attacked by, I would actually say that most psychic attacks go undiagnosed because the recipient may not even believe in magick at all, or be unwilling to think that someone would curse them.

There is a Wiccan Priestess that I knew who was suffering for years without even considering the idea that she was attacked. Someone however came forward years later and admitted that they knew that one of her boyfriends ex-lovers had paid a Palero to place a jinx on her. Things cleared up shortly thereafter.

Jason Miller, said...

Sorry for the broken replies here, it is a reflection of my broken time schedule. But I wanted to mention that curses that can by-pass an LBRP and BRH are actually VERY common. Almost any curse with a condition powder will do the trick, especially if it is in a place where the magician keeps contacting it. Its like putting a virus in a printer, the tech guy clears the PC but the second they use the printer - wham!

This is one of the reasons that I stress and interdisciplinary approach to magick. Strict Hoodooers are largely susceptible to energetic attacks, and CM guys are largely susceptible to any kind of physical based attack.

We actually tested this in a small Cabal about 10 years ago.

Ananael Qaa said...

Almost any curse with a condition powder will do the trick, especially if it is in a place where the magician keeps contacting it.

Yes, I glossed over this in the article because it wasn't really the focus of the piece, but the problem with condition powders and the LBRP/LBRH banishing field is for it work on any spell with a physical anchor you need to catch the anchor in the banishing field. That is, if somebody casts a spell using a powder on your doorstep and you always do your rituals up in your temple you won't be able to neutralize the spell and you'll keep coming into contact with it.

In this situation you can keep banishing every day to minimize the effect, but it's essentially a holding action - the curse will keep working. One possible solution would be to open the banishing field over an area that includes the doorstep, but the difficulty there is that if you don't know where the powder has actually been placed this can be an incredibly unwieldy an cumbersome method. It might be your doorstep, but it could also be by your car, along the way that you walk into work, or just about anywhere else you regularly go depending on how clever the caster is.

That's where evoking a powerful entity associated with Mars ("works of wrath and vengeance") or Saturn ("works of malediction and death") comes in. A sophisticated enough spirit or entity can be sent out on a "seek and destroy" mission to find the anchor and neutralize the spell. This works for talisman-based curses too, or anything that is linked to a material object rather than the targeted magician.

We actually tested this in a small Cabal about 10 years ago.

That's awesome. Like I keep saying, I'm a huge fan of empirically testing magical techniques.

Robert-Joseph said...

Unfortunately I don't have time to go through the entire set of replies right now, so hopefully I'm not treading on already covered ground here.

I didn't read Mr Miller's original article, but I'm getting the idea that an the terms magickal attack and curse are being used interchangebly. I think I've talked with you specifically about this once before and it may just be a difference in terminologies. If I throw energy at you with an attack intent and it hurts or kills you, I'd consider that a magickal attack, psionic magick, whatever, but not a curse, but I think you consider that a curse.

I also view certain types of magick that aren't offensive at all, like love spells, as attacks.

In any case, it is a common phenomena. If you're not actively involved with the magick community, your chances of having it happen to you are fairly slim. If you are involved though, you have a pretty good chance of being attacked.

A lot of people actually can attack and curse pretty well. There are a lot of spells that should, in theory, work that can be found on the Internet without much trying. For a lot of them you don't need anything but intent and faith that it will work. People in their teens through their early twenties may not have much learning or experience, but they tend to have a lot of faith that the magick will work (sometimes more than seasoned magicians) and their intent can be very focused and their emotions very intense. It's usually enough to pull off the spell.

It won't be a really good spell. It isn't anything that can't easily be pulled apart by an experienced magician. But the casting itself will work.

I'm also going to once again say I don't like the idea of the banishing ritual, it does too much more than what's needed and there are much better ways of going about dealing with an attack. It also doesn't address the issue of a counter-strike which is a necessary defense. Without one the person may just keep casting spells until something finally gets through.

And to move off-topic and address another issue in your post, people get attacked for a lot of reasons. Sometimes people attack you just because they don't like you, or people perceive you as stronger, or you disagree with them, or you won't have sex with them. I know I piss a lot of people off when I go out in the community, but I also get a lot of unprovoked attacks where I don't understand why.

Gordon_Finn said...

>>That is, if somebody casts a spell using a powder on your doorstep and you always do your rituals up in your temple you won't be able to neutralize the spell and you'll keep coming into contact with it.

Regardless of where you do the spell, it should be working on your whole sphere. If it isn't, you're not doing it right. But, even if you had considered it and rejected it, why are you not thinking of banishing for your whole life?

As for repeated contact with a powder or some other hoodoo/rootowrk, it'd have to be very unusual circumstances. If it's outside, it's subject to the elements: wind, rain, snow, etc. The stuff isn't superglued on. Clothes and shoes are cleaned regularly, as are carpets, linoleum, bedsheets. If you aren't cleaning these things for normal health issues, you've got worse problems than being cursed.

Constantly coming into contact with a material object and being cursed over and over again is a hilarious prospect to me, even one that has been intended to be cursed. What is the occult properties of injection molded plastic of happy meal toys? I don't know, but it's gotta have some significance. And you can use it with just force of will to make it a good luck charm because you want it to and you think it every day. Even with rootwork, banishing rituals can still be effective by banishing the effects inherent within material items that have specific intentions placed upon them.

Sator said...

I have a comment about the former post. I like to think of myself that Im very grounded, not the kind of people with a lot of imagination that often thinks about magickal attacks. But once I had an argument with a Thelemite , and suddenlly strange things started to happen me. My face was green, and almost had two car accidentes -I was a magnet for stupid drivers- so I went with a friend that is astrologer, and checked the cuestion; so it was true I was being attacked. Anyway I made some work with the egiptian godess Maat about asking for justice. And it was the last time I heard about this person.
P.d. Usually I read tarot, but went with the astrologer because i was involved in the situation.Anyway I know enough astrology for check for myself the cuestion s chart that my friend rise and the attack was very clear.

Gordon_Finn said...

Eh, it happens sometimes. Strength of will focused on the lower levels to sap life force from you and there might have been something in you that your system then couldn't keep at bay. Even having a previous relationship with a spirit to let it be called at a moments notice to do something could have been the case with the thelemite. And if they left it up as a general thing that the spirit figures on its own, it could quickly wormed its way in.

You had good instincts to check it out and Ma'at is very effective.

Ananael Qaa said...

Regardless of where you do the spell, it should be working on your whole sphere. If it isn't, you're not doing it right.

But when you do a banishing you don't shut down talismans created by every other magician in the world, for example. You're right that this is the case if what you're trying to banish is directly attached to you, but let's say that a talisman is created that acts as an anchor for a servitor/telesma that is intelligent enough to mess with the environment around you and then take off whenever it sees you start to do a ritual. You would need to catch the talisman within the limits of your perception as you do the banishing spell in order to shut the spell down.

If it's outside, it's subject to the elements: wind, rain, snow, etc. The stuff isn't superglued on.

That's a good point. I'm guessing that the weather conditions probably have a significant effect on the duration of powder-based spells for this reason, though this is something I've never really tested out myself.

What is the occult properties of injection molded plastic of happy meal toys?

Thankfully for those of us who might otherwise be at the mercy of these terrible toys, plastic doesn't hold much of a magical charge. ;-)

Now that you mention it, that sounds like a good idea for a horror-comedy film - happy meal toys coming to life and, say, terrorizing a small town...

Sator said...

Yep;Ma at rules;The Thelemite and I were in five yahoo groups where he used to post a lot.And after the work he dissapered, even from a group that he was the owner.

Gordon_Finn said...

>>But when you do a banishing you don't shut down talismans created by every other magician in the world, for example.

No, not all in the world, just the ones in your sphere. If it's not completely shut down, it'd temporarily bring down its strength.

>>You're right that this is the case if what you're trying to banish is directly attached to you, but let's say that a talisman is created that acts as an anchor for a servitor/telesma that is intelligent enough to mess with the environment around you and then take off whenever it sees you start to do a ritual.

That's why you specify backwards and forwards through time. Even if it finds a way to get around it, you've limited its options.

>>Thankfully for those of us who might otherwise be at the mercy of these terrible toys, plastic doesn't hold much of a magical charge.

Definitely not in a traditional sense. But...thinking about it now...I'd start with the material properties. Plastic coatings are put on metal garden stakes to keep them from rusting. So, it's got protective, long lasting properties. Depending on the thickness and composition, it can be tough, flexible, lightweight and resistant to damage, but it can melt easily and frozen and easily shattered. It doesn't leak and it's easy to clean, but at the same time, when merged with organic tissue, it can be unhealthy. I can see good and bad uses for plastic alone in poppet magick.

Then, you add in the shape of the toy. I remember one toy was a hamburger helicopter. I've still got it. But, if the toy was yoda or a transformer, all three would 'summon' different forces.

ChandraNova said...

"If you're not actively involved with the magick community, your chances of having it happen to you are fairly slim. If you are involved though, you have a pretty good chance of being attacked."

Shamanic types often have spats, it's usually like dogs fighting the new dog on the block to establish a pecking order though.

And yeah, I've met people involved in vodou, one lady here in the UK who'd studied that tried to take a pretty big chunk out of me, to the extent an unbriefed San Pedro shaman in Peru told me about it, and described her almost perfectly, before I was even aware she was aiming at me!

So I don't THINK I'm particularly deranged, but I've had some stuff lobbed at me: then again, I tend to be a person who's fairly outspoken (as you may have noticed from all my comments, sorry - just actully really enjoying your blog!) and I sometimes just rub folks up the wrong way...

But yeah, it's like being a gangster, you're in that world and you can draw that kind of fire, most average civilians won't find themselves getting caught up in this kind of thing, it's usually jealousy or territorial.

geomante said...

"I tend to separate out curses cast by individuals or groups from what Jason calls a "crossed condition," which is caused by exposure to certain sorts of environmental magical energy rather than the result of an targeted attack."

Nope. In fact, in his book "Protection and Reversal Magick" Jason tells us how he was afflicted by crossed conditions generated by a magical attack. In her own words "by someone for whom I refused to do favor" and then: "If I hadn't acted, the crossed conditions could have grown much worse."
And on page 19 says: "In my experience, occult attack and crossed conditions generally stem from one of four sources: ...... (4) attacks from other
practitioners. "

Scott Stenwick said...

The quoted sentence from my article probably needs a "necessarily" in there to convey the intended meaning - "rather than necessarily the result of a targeted attack." I didn't mean to imply that Jason's book states crossed conditions can never result from a magical attack by an individual. That is very much not the case, as the sections you quote demonstrate.

Hopefully over the course of the last three years since I wrote this my prose has gotten clearer. I certainly have been working at it.