As a magician I am often asked if we actually live in a world that is morally and spiritually dangerous. Certainly, the world at large can be a physically dangerous place and there is no lack of tragedy and calamity in the world. If you happen to have the misfortune of living in a dangerous part of the world, most of the tragedy consists of human perpetuated acts of malice and mayhem. There is also nature herself who visits catastrophes on the earth from time to time, and the frequencies of these phenomena will likely increase as a result of climate change and other factors. However, the real question is whether or not there is a supernatural force of evil that is behind all of these tragic occurrences. Is there a Devil who is the great mediator of the forces of evil that prey on human weaknesses and promotes the destruction of mankind? Or perhaps it is the actions of a morally ambiguous Deity that gives out mercy and severity in a seemingly quixotic mixture of good and evil?
Those who believe in an active mythic war between the forces of good arrayed against the forces of evil see the world and its populace as a kind of titanic battleground between benefic angels and hostile demons, and that even natural disasters are painted with this kind of dualistic gloom. In the Bible, the Deity itself has purportedly engaged in mass destruction and the wanton killing of sinners and innocents alike (although non-believers, however innocent, are shown to be justified killings), and all of this has been noted as the actions of a just and righteous godhead. Who are we to judge such actions, as the God of the Monotheists moves in such mysterious ways? Even so, as a pagan man, I find all of this speculation to be irrelevant, overly simplified and even troubling. It could even represent a kind of mental illness called global paranoia if it is allowed to achieve extreme levels of expression.
As a pagan, I reject that the world is polarized between the forces of good and evil and that there is a supernatural basis to evil operating in the world. I have been keenly observing the behavior of humanity for the duration of my adult life and I have steeped myself in a broad study of history. It would seem to me that the real evil in the world is perpetuated by individuals or groups of human beings and not some overarching force of evil. While I might believe in intermediaries called daemones, I don’t believe in the Devil and hostile demonic forces. Others might indulge in this Manichean belief system and to them it is a reality, but it is not a universal reality, and that is my whole point. I believe that there is a sane way to deal with both the secular world and the occult world of spiritual consciousness and disembodied beings without bringing into the equation the mental venom of perpetual duality. There are hazards aplenty to be found in the Spirit World, and I have experienced many of them at first hand. Yet hazards are not the same as a unified force of evil.
If there isn’t a universal reality consisting of the supernatural elements of good and evil warring against each other, then what about the concept of white magic and black magic? Is there such a thing? Having recently written about the basic elements of ritual magick, it would seem that what colors a magical working is the intention. If the intention is to hurt or coerce someone, then, depending on the context, the magic produced in such an effort could be considered ethically negative. Of course, then we get into the whole highly complicated discussion about ethics in the use of magic, and that is not the theme that I am following here in this article. It is a topic to be discussed (or avoided) in a future article. So, if there isn’t a universal evil being, and magic is neither black nor white, then what about black magicians and black lodges? This is a favorite topic of a number of authors, some deployed as fictional tropes, others as talking points about the ethical shape of the occult world. I suspect, based on my own experiences, that it is best to keep these concepts within the domain of fiction where they belong.
This also brings us to the topic of magical or psychic attacks, often perpetuated by individuals who would be considered “black” magicians. Every now and again, I will get an email from someone who is claiming to be under attack, whether magically or via some superhuman psychic agency. Are there “black” lodges out there training individuals to be “black” magicians who excel at fomenting magical or psychic attacks on helpless individuals? While it might be a good fictional theme is it actually true or real? I have to admit that I am quite skeptical, so my answer is a qualified “no.” Anyone who has read a book on magical self-defense or personal protection might think that the world is filled with magical malefactors and lodges to support them, and that the moment someone begins to learn magic they have effectively placed a target on themselves for all the evil magicians to see. This is particularly true with Dion Fortune’s book “Psychic Self-Defense” where she talks about magical and psychic predators and even the existence of black lodges. An uncritical reading of her book could lead individuals to all sorts of erroneous ideas, and often when someone either sends me an email or talks to me about being magically attacked, this book is used as a reference and a tool for validating it.
As a magician who has practiced magick for nearly four decades and who, for the most part, has been around and met many magicians and other occultists, one thing that I can say for certain is that magical and psychic attacks can and do occur. However, they are more rare and isolated instances rather than common and often occurring ones. Of course, if you are talking about the Voudoun or Palo/Santeria communities, there are probably more actual occurrences of such phenomena; but if you are talking about the Wiccan and Pagan community, they are probably more rare. Why is this so? Because in order for a successful magical or psychic attack to occur, it has to be performed by someone who is competent and capable of doing such an act, and I might add, getting away with it. Believe it or not, this is a tall order, especially in the Wiccan and Pagan communities. Keep in mind that someone who would be competent in a fee-for-service kind of magical working would be able to be employed for many purposes, not just performing negative (retributive) magic. A dedicated black magician is likely more a myth than a reality, and even more so would be a collective of black magicians. Could you really imagine a group of egotistical evil magicians being able to function as a group, conducting their work in a civil manner and following specified by-laws? I can’t, and the thought is actually quite amusing if it wasn’t so completely ridiculous.
Many individuals in the Pagan and Wiccan community struggle to perform simple rituals and some eschew even a basic practice of magic altogether. There is also a lack of training materials or an effective collection of spells for malefic rites (but no small number of books on the subject), and not a lot of competence, either. Additionally, there are individuals who are capable of affecting or impacting someone in an indirect manner without having any knowledge of magic. Sales people, seducers and con artists use these skills every day, not to mention bullies, thugs, spouse abusers and even sovereign nations. The threat of doing something will often be just as effective as the actual act, so innuendo and implied actions could be considered a form of indirect coercion, even though they are not to be considered any kind of malefic magic.
Negative magic has a number of rules to be followed just as positive magic or magic in general. One of the most basic rules is that the targeted person must be informed in some manner that they are being attacked, and the magician often finds an ingenious way of leaving a subtle but unambiguous calling card. (I call that the “gloating gotcha.”) Also, the effects of being magically attacked are usually unambiguous. There are ways to determine if one is being attacked as there are ways of deflecting it. Any attempt at blocking or deflecting a curse or attack will at least have some success, showing that the source is indeed external. Still, sometimes instead of being attacked from without an individual can experience something like an attack from within, and that is where we leave the domain of magic entirely behind and enter into the domain of mental illness and/or internal process-based issues.
I can at least speak from experience about magical attacks because in the long course of my magical career I have been magically attacked. In all cases it was from someone with whom I was intimately familiar. There are usually implied threats or some kind of innuendo or calling card left behind, and it often manifests with a clear sense of where the attack has come from. Simple exercises can deflect it, even partially, or a recourse to one’s spiritual alignment can often completely silence it, at least momentarily. The most effective curse deployed uses a person’s sense of guilt or culpability as a means of establishing a pervasive link, so a curse sent against someone who is a sociopath or one who is totally devoid of conscience or empathy (or who believes that they are without blame) will obviously fail. It is also true that someone who has studiously made himself immune to psychic or magical attack will have little that can be targeted for such a purpose.
Truly, the most vulnerable type of person is one who feels guilty or is very empathically susceptible, or a combination of both. Natural psychics often ward themselves when dealing with the general public during readings, and I have even met a few psychologists who have admitted to learning to be completely detached from their patients. (One psychologist friend of mine burned Epsom salts in her consulting room after each consultation.) Even so, the most susceptible person can block or deflect a magical attack, and they can therefore determine the nature of it and even its source.
A curse is always a two-way street, since it requires the link between target and source to be in effect as long as the curse is being used to subjugate the victim. Perhaps the smartest curse (and the least effective) is what I call the “hit and run exercise,” which amounts to putting a curse on someone and then quickly breaking the link. If such a vehicle finds a potent vulnerability then it could conceivably continue to work even after the link is broken. Yet finding this kind of severe vulnerability in a person that could either harm or even kill them would be quite a feat in itself. People are not without natural defenses and internal stabilizing mechanisms, so very few individuals are that fragile or liable for self-destruction. Therefore a hit and run exercise will more often cause some minor mischief, if it is, indeed, effective at all. A serious magical attack relies on retaining the link between the magician and victim, even if malefic spirits are conjured and used to carry it out.
How can a person tell if they are being attacked by an external agency? As I have stated earlier, because it can be deflected in some manner or form. Victims will sense an external “alien” source to themseves that will urge them to some kind of behavior that is against their desires or interests, but a simple warding rite will cause it to diminish somewhat or cease altogether. I call this a “curse flickering effect” and it indicates an outside source.
A sure sign that the attack is coming from within is when any protective action has no effect at all. After all, how can we protect ourselves from our own internal minds? An internal attack is a sign that some issue or internal process has been triggered and empowered, and now represents a potential internal threat or even an overall crisis. This is a sign that what is occurring represents some variety of mental illness, whether it is just annoying at the very least or life threatening at the very worst. Now it is important, in my opinion, for everyone to understand that mental illness is not a stigma nor a sign of some internal flaw. No one is perfect and no one is immune to the debilitating effects of mental illness - it can strike down anyone. Some of us are perhaps more susceptible to certain kinds of mental illness either due to genetics or bodily chemistry, but as many as one in three experience some degree and variety of mental illness in a lifetime. We should see it as a disease rather than some kind of personal defect, and it is, unfortunately, not uncommon.
The most important thing that you can do if you believe that you are under a magical attack is to try to be dispassionate and think about what is happening to you in an objective manner. You can also get a friend or a family member to act as an objective outsider and listen to you describe what you are going through. Finding an objective and rational base is an important first step to thwarting a curse. Once you have achieved that, then you can try some simple warding exercises, protection spells or get some basic spiritual help from a professional member of one’s clergy. If any of these actions gains you some relief from the experience, then what you are experiencing is undoubtably a magical attack. Doing more of these kinds of exercises will gain you more relief and perhaps even a solution.
Still, to stop the attack cold, you should identify the “alien” source in your head and its directives, and then locate that place of guilt or susceptibility within you that it is targeting. You can then either mask or eliminate it, thereby depriving the curse of an access point. Once this is done, then the curse will be automatically deactivated. You can also employ someone who is an expert at magical counter measures to do this operation for you, if such a person is available. However, an external attack can be deflected and the link broken, and once that happens, the curse is thwarted. Any residual energy typically goes back to the originator from whence it came, forcing the aggressor magician to hastily break the link or deal with the consequences of a malefic blow-back. Even so, when mental illness strikes there is little that can be done other than seek professional help. If you think that you have been magically attacked and you seem immune to any kind of counteraction then you are suffering from an internal attack. Hopefully, such a test will help you to objectify it and allow you to see the nature and source of your problem.
Most of the people that have either emailed me or talked to me about being magically attacked were actually experiencing some kind of internal attack. The source and cause of such attacks are numerous and since I am not a professional counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist, I am powerless to do anything but help the person objectify what is happening to them. If the source isn’t external nor magical, then I am helpless to do anything about it.
One last thing to consider is the nature of the attack and its power. If the attack seems to be perpetrated by someone who would have to be wielding the powers of a spiritual master, then it is more likely that the attack is actually internal. There are limits to what any practical magician can do to someone, just short of putting a powerful drug or poison into their food or drink. If what you are experiencing would seem to indicate someone who is able to live inside of your head (and know every thought that you have had, or any dream that you might have dreamed) as well as living his own head, then you are likely also experiencing an internal attack (and not a magical one).
I have been involved in magic for many years and I have yet to meet anyone who has that degree of psychic power. It might even be impossible for someone to consciously live in their own head and in the head of someone else. If it’s not impossible then I would assume that with such great powers would also be a towering spiritual love, an infinite compassion for all beings and the ethical desire to allow others to find their own way however faulty or fruitless. I just don’t believe that there is such a thing as a spiritual master who is completely evil, nor do I believe in a lodge of assembled magical malefactors. Myths have their purpose, but that purpose is not to hide or mask the true nature of everything.
The world as we know it is one that is morally and spiritually grey. There is no battle between good and evil spirits, and human nature is often corrupted with greed, avarice, mendacity, and driven by an egotistic lust for power. Human beings are flawed, and so, too, their endeavors will be flawed. Human nature can also display great transcendent virtues, so life in this material world is a mixed bag of virtue, talents, achievements, incompetence and moral failings. There is stark clarity, murky duplicity, and everything in between; but “sometimes, my dear, a cigar is just a cigar.”