Extract from the Book
Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune
THE DIAGNOSIS OF A PSYCHIC ATTACK
METHODS EMPLOYED IN MAKING A PSYCHIC ATTACK
ANYONE who reads the old books on witchcraft, usually compiled by the professional witch-finders from the confessions of alleged witches extorted under torture, will find that the phenomena described fall into certain broad categories which are so constant in (lifferent ages and in different parts of the world that we are left with the impression that there must be some fire behind so much smoke. The State records of witch-trials in Scotland, the reports of a priest charged with the task of extirpating witchcraft in Northern Italy, the archives of Brittany, the stories of magic in classical literature, and finally, travellers’ accounts of the practices of primitive people all over the world, all corroborate each other, agreeing as to the phenomena described, the explanations given by the witches of their methods, and the broad divisions into which the phenomena fall.
We must first take account of the use of drugs, of which the Black Fraternity in all ages have possessed a remarkable knowledge. Potions, unguents and fumigations were used extensively, and among all the weird and wonderful ingredients of which they were composed we now and again find substances which are known to be medicinally potent. The poppy which gives sleep and dreams, hemp which gives visions, datura which produces loss of memory, blighted grains which produce abortion, certain insects which are powerfully aphrodisiac, certain barks which are effectually anaphrodisiac, and, in the New World, the buds of a certain cactus all these and many others play their part in the witchbrews. Paracelsus earned fame by turning some of the traditional magical brews to medicinal purposes. The Borgias earned infamy by employing them as subtle poisons which destroyed the mind without necessarily destroying the body. It is related that the Roman philos opher Lucretius was driven insane by a magical draught given him by his wife in order to restore to her his lost affections. There exist old recipes for witch-unguents which contain opium and cantharides. It is not difficult to imagine what manner of dreams would come in the sleep thus induced. C. S. Ollivier, in his recent book, Analysis of Magic and Witchcraft, gives it as his opinion that attendance at the Sabbat was often achieved by means of drug-induced dreams. Subtle poisons also undoubtedly play a part in the effectiveness of curses, a favourite method being to make a talisman of brass, copper or lead, and fasten it incon spicuously at the bottom of a drinking vessel or cooking pot. What effect the talisman had is conjectural, but there is no doubt at all about the effect of the steady dissolving of small quantities of lead and verdigris in the food.
But while all these things were a part, and a considerable part, of the witch-cult, they cannot, strictly speaking, be considered a psychic method of attack, and we only refer to them in these pages in order that their effects may be excluded from the diagnosis.
There are three factors in a psychic attack, any or all of which may be employed in a given instance. The first of these is telepathic hypnotic suggestion. The second is the reinforcement of the suggestion by the invocation of certain invisible agencies. The third is the employment of some physical substance as a point d’appui, point of contact, or magnetic link. The force employed may be used as direct current, transmitted by the mental concentration of the operator, or it may be reserved in a kind of psychic storage battery, which may be either an artificial elemental or a talisman.
In Chapter II we have considered in some detail the psychology of suggestion, and need not repeat what has already been said, save to remind the reader that the essence of telepathy consists in the sympathetic induction of vibra tion. Experimental psychologists are already suspecting that emotion is closely akin to electricity; they have proved conclusively that emotional states alter the electrical conductivity of the body. The occultist believes that emotion is a force of an electrical type, and that in the case of the ordinary man it radiates out from him in all directions, forming a magnetic field; but in the case of the trained occultist it can be concentrated into a beam and directed. Supposing you are able to concentrate your whole attention upon a single feeling, inhibiting all else, you will have achieved a pure emotional state, unadulterated and undiluted. All the life-force coming into your soul will therefore flow in this single subdivision of a single channel instead of in the many ramifications of the usual three channels previously referred to. The concentration will be terrific, but it will only be achieved at a terrific price. It is in order to achieve this terrible concentration that the saints of the West and the yogis of the East practise a torturing asceticism. You must sell all that you possess in order to purchase this pearl of great price, and an echo of the method lingers in the fairy-tale tradition that the person who finds the lucky stone can only have one wish. Such a concentration is good for one purpose, and one purpose only. We can concentrate on a healing, or on a destruction, but we cannot work at both simultaneously; neither can we readily change over from one to the other. We cannot combine incompatibles within the limits of a single life. That is to say, if we have concentrated on a work of malediction and death in order to achieve an act of revenge, our rage being satiated, we cannot immediately reverse the spin of the soul and reconcentrate upon works of wisdom and redemption. We may liken the soul moving with the tide of evolution to a wheel spinning clockwise, or deosil; and a soul moving against the tide of evolution to a wheel spinning counter clockwise, or widdershins. The position of the axle can be altered so that the wheel revolves at any angle without the direction of its revolution being effected, but the flywheel has to be stopped before the engine can be reversed, and a big flywheel takes a great deal of stopping. Moreover, in order to reverse the flywheel, we have to stop the engine. The normal movement of the soul is deosil, forward with the current of evolution. We need to think many times before we undertake to reverse that spin even momentarily, in order to undertake a work of malediction and death. The old saying, “There is the devil to pay,” is a true one. Indeed, it is questionable whether there is such a thing as a momentary reversal of spin. Momentum has to be checked and worked up again before reversal of spin can take place.
Very great forces can be developed by this subjective concentration of the mind itself, but even greater forces can be rendered available if we apply the mechanical equivalent of gearing; if, in other words, while this tremendous concentration is being held, we pick up the contacts of the corresponding cosmic force. We use the powers of the human mind as a self-starter, and as soon as its lesser driving- wheel is flying round merrily, we throw in the clutch of the main engine. There is a brief period of struggle as the little machine forces over the reluctant levers of the great machine, then the vapour fires and the engine takes up its work. After that it is only a matter of engaging the gears and driving – if you can! So it is with ceremonial magic.
Let us consider a concrete case of someone who wants to avail himself of a fighting force. He would have recourse to a ceremony of the planet Mars. He would therefore gather together in his temple all that was appropriate to Mars. He would drape his altar with a scarlet cloth; he would himself wear a scarlet robe. All his magical implements would be of iron and his rod of power would be a naked sword. Upon his altar he would place five lights, five being the number of Mars. Upon his breast would be the symbol of Mars engraved upon a steel pentagon. On his hand would be a ruby ring. He would burn sulphur and saltpetre in his thurible. Then, according to the work in hand, he would call upon the angelic or demonic aspect of the Fifth Sephira, Geburah, the sphere of Mars. He would invoke either the deity-name in Geburah, calling upon the God of Battles to hear him, or the arch-devil of the Fifth Infernal Habitation. Having performed this mighty invocation, he would then offer himself upon the altar as the channel for the manifestation of the force. There are many formulae extant designed to enable a force to be brought through without the necessity of the magician himself being the channel. In my opinion they are one and all ineffectual; the only possible substitute for the magician himself being a trance medium. It is for this reason that ritual magic so often fails to come off. You cannot make custards without breaking eggs, and if you mean to be a magician you have got to “go the whole hog.” When it is a question of bringing through the angelic aspect of a force, the matter is on a clear footing. To be the channel of such a force is a great privilege and is an initiation in itself. The operator has simply to eliminate from his nature all incompatibles and maintain his concentration without wavering. The worst that can happen is that he should fail to obtain his results. But when it comes to bringing through the demonic aspect of a sphere, the matter is on an entirely different footing. Very few people care to offer themselves for the manifestation of such a force as Asmodeus. I do not believe that there is any reliable device for invoking the devils without being obsessed by them save the method of Abramelin, which involves six months’ preparation and is only operated after the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel have been attained. The edge of the Abyss is well fenced. It is not possible to fire a gun and avoid the recoil.
Having invoked and concentrated his force, our sorcerer has next to consider his target. He has to get into astral contact with his victim. In order to do this, he must form a rapport, not quite as easy as might be imagined. First he has to find his victim and establish a point of contact in his sphere, and then, working from this base, succeed in piercing his aura. An unfocussed force is not very much use. A focus has to be achieved. The usual method is to obtain some object which is impregnated with the intended victim’s magnetism, a lock of hair, nail-paring, or something habitually worn or handled. Such an object is magnetically connected with its owner, and the sorcerer can work up the trail and thus enter the sphere of his victim and establish a rapport. He then proceeds as does any other practitioner of suggestion who has succeeded in getting his victim into the first stages of hypnosis. By means of the magnetic link he has gamed the psychic ear of his victim, who will hear his suggestions subconsciously. It now remains to be seen whether the thought-seeds thus planted will strike root or be cast out from the mind. In any case the victim is rendered disturbed and uneasy.
If a magnetic link cannot be obtained, the practitioner of black magic has to fall back upon other devices. One of the most common is that of Substitution. Something is chosen and by means of ceremonial is identified with the intended Victim. For instance, a small animal may be baptised with the victim’s name, and then immolated, usually with torture, the operator meanwhile concentrating upon the personality of the original. The old device of making a wax image and melting it before a fire, or driving nails into a wooden statue, baptised with the name of the victim, are frequently met with in the records of witch-trials. The actual driving of the nail has no conceivable effect upon the victim, but it helps the concentration of the operator.
The talismanic method in various forms is also employed. A talisman is a symbol representing a certain force, or combination of forces, depicted upon a suitable substance and magnetised by ritual. It can be made from anything which will retain magnetism; metals, precious stones or parchment are usually employed; paper is less effective unless it be enclosed in a metal case. Water and oil can be effectually magnetised but soon lose their potency. A talisman is made by invoking the requisite force, as already described, and then concentrating it upon the prepared object, which is placed ready upon the altar before the evocation begins.
A talisman thus made has next to be brought into the magnetic sphere of the victim. It is related that Lady Burton, anxious to convert her free-thinking husband, the famous Sir Richard Burton, the great explorer, used to get her priest to bless little statues of the saints and put them in the pockets of his clothes. A similar device is used by the workers of black occultism. Magnetised objects are placed in the rooms habitually occupied by the victim, or buried in his path, so that he must pass over them frequently. These talismans of evil not only work by their own power, but also serve the sorcerer as a point of concentration for his meditations.
Harmful effects are also produced by objects which have been used in black magic and have become impregnated with the forces they were employed in generating. Odds and ends of magical equipment turn up in some queer places. I was present at an auction in a country town when the twelve signs of the Zodiac, neatly painted on a blackboard, came up for sale. Various of my friends have picked up magical treasures, such as altar lamps and incense burners that obviously came out of ritual lodges, but the prize of the collection was a magical rod that was put up to auction along with a bundle of fire-irons. Large crystals for scrying are frequently seen in antique shops. All such things need carefully de-magnetising before they are brought into one’s psychic sphere. I was taking part at one time in a series of psychic experiments which had been going on very well, when, for no apparent reason, things went wrong and there was a considerable upheaval. We did not know at the time, but we learnt later, that the owner of the flat where they were being held had obtained possession of a floor-cloth that had been used in ritual magic by an occultist whom only the utmost leniency could call doubtful.
The artificial elemental is really the basis of the efficacy of curses. in this case no physical substance is employed, but a portion of the Akasha is moulded into a definite form and held thus by the will of the operator until, as it were, it “sets.” Into this mould is poured the concentrated energy of the operator, something of his own self goes into it. This is its soul, and it is like a self-steering torpedo which is set to move in a curve towards a chosen mark. Or the operator, if an expert magician, may deliberately ensoul this thought-form with elemental essence, which is the raw, undifferentiated substance of life drawn from one or another of the elemental kingdoms. It is in order to do this that the curse is invoked in the name of some being. The curser declares, “I curse you by so and so.” This is the form of evocation which calls the ensouling essence into the thought- form, thus making an artificial elemental which is endowed with an independent life of its own.
If we want to know something of the efficacy of curses, we have only to consider the record of the men who were connected with the opening of the famous Tut-ankh-amen tomb. There are many other cases equally well authenticated.
One can become exposed to occult unpleasantness either by thwarting or in some other way falling foul of an un scrupulous occultist, or by getting oneself involved with a dubious occult fraternity. In the case of a quarrel with an occultist, in addition to the ordinary human motives for an abuse of power, one has to reckon with the fact that an adept who is not of the whitest nearly always suffers from that unpleasant psychic disease of “hypertrophied ego.” He will love power for its own sake, and take any defection on the part of an erstwhile follower, or any resistance to his imperious will as a personal insult or even injury. With a trained mind, an angry thought will do damage, and I have known cases of occultists who, out of pure pique, went to extraordinary lengths of spite. One can only hope that they did not really believe in the efficacy of what they did, and were merely playing to the gallery “pour encourager les autres” and ensure loyalty among their supporters.
Another thing which is particularly disliked by this type of adept is any attempt on the part of a pupil who has broken with him to make use of what he has been taught. There seem to be no lengths to which a jealous guru will not go in order to smash his chela psychically.
In one case which came to my knowledge a concert singer had had “treatment” for the improvement of her voice from an adept of sorts. She finally decided that she would spend no more money on this enterprise, and told him so at the visit which she had decided should be the last. He concentrated his gaze upon her and told her that if she broke with him, as soon as she went on the concert platform she would see his face in the air in front of her, and her throat would close and she would be unable to utter a sound, and that this horrible experience would occur every time she tried to sing until she returned to him and continued to have “treatment” (at a guinea a time). This potent hypnotic suggestion proved effective, and her career was at an end until the spell was broken.
The following letter contains a very illuminating experience, and is of value, not only for its account of a psychic attack, but also for its description of the manner in which the attack was combated.
“In the winter of 1921-2 I was told (from the Inner Planes), ‘We see your initiation into the Order of the Christ.’ I did not understand very clearly and I waited.
“In June, 1922, an Oriental, the head of a great religious Order, came to see me. (I was living in Switzerland.) We will call him Z. I expected great things from him and looked on him as a sort of Master. Knowing that he had met Abdul Baha, I thought to please him by putting A. B.’s photo on my walls, but when Z. entered my room I saw at once that he did not quite like it. We conversed for a while and he asked me several questions. Suddenly he offered me initiation into his Order. I was taken aback and did not feel the inner consent. I said I must reflect. Later on an inspiration (?) came to me and I said, ‘Is your Order the Order of the Christ?’ He answered, ‘It is.’ I told him of my experience (related above) and accepted initiation; but I had the inner conviction that all was not right. “I felt no inner response to several incidents during the initiation, and I began to call mentally and earnestly upon the Christ, and kept on doing so until the end of the ceremony. (I learned afterwards that he had told one of his disciples that I had accepted initiation but not the Master.)
“It would take too long to relate other less important details so I go on to our second interview during which he asked me several times to leave the town where I was and to join him in active work. This time I heard the inner voice clearly; it said, ‘No.’ Suddenly he said, ‘Sit in front of me; I will heal you.’ (I was in very bad health at the time.) He fixed his eyes on mine with a strong commanding gaze. Mentally I called on the Christ and I felt form all round me a sort of shell. ‘There,’ he said, ‘I have healed you.’ The inner voice said, ‘No.’
“Well, he went away and I had a ‘bad time,’ for I had the feeling that all was not right, though I had no suspicion of evil. (Nor have I now.)
“I wrote an account of this interview to a friend, and a letter from her crossed mine. She told me that about the time of my interview with Z., of which she was unaware, she was told to join our spiritual teacher in helping me. She withdrew from the Outer Planes, and then she realised that strong hypnotic forces were playing upon me in waves. Again and again she had to use all her spiritual power to help me withstand them, but finally ‘we stood on a rock, bathed in light and free.’ My letter gave her the key to it; but she replied, ‘Take care, Z. will try again. He realised that he was baffled; he will try on the Inner Planes next time.’
“Now comes the great experience. A few weeks later, at night, I had a very vivid vision, it seemed; but it was a real experience. I was in the middle of a group of seven or eight persons of whom I saw two clearly. On my left was a woman entirely veiled in black, but she made a startlingly clear figure for all that. On the right was Z. He said, ‘ Now I will give her the second, the higher initiation.’ And he seized my right arm with force. But I disengaged myself, and standing straight and calm I said (I can hear myself now), ‘Before this ceremony proceeds I wish to make a statement. I can allow nothing and no one to come between me and the Christ.’ There was a howl, a tossing of hands and every thing disappeared.
“Soon after I tore up my initiation card, put Z. out of my mind and have had no conscious personal experience of him since.
“But I had introduced him to a young French musician of high social standing, whom he found much to his taste. (We will call him F.) There is a close friendship between F. and me, and at that time he needed some Oriental music for one of his compositions – on the other hand, he might have been extremely useful to Z., towards whom he felt strongly attracted. After my own experience I began to be much alarmed, but felt that I was not big enough to deal with the situation, so I said nothing to F. but prayed that he might be protected from all evil. Shortly afterwards F. told me in his letters of various astral experiences. In his dreams he was going through all sorts of disagreeable things and voices kept saying to him, ‘Ask Z. to help you. He will help you.’ Then he became conscious of my presence and began calling on the Christ (all this in his dream) and everything vanished. This happened more than once. Only when I met him again did I tell him of my own experience.
“I must add that a friend with psychic power came to see me at this time and said, ‘This last week, at night, I have seen you three times. You asked me to help you save a young man who was in danger. What did it mean?'”
The above case indicates clearly the deliberate use of mental power by Z. His pretence of “spiritual healing” being an obvious attempt at hypnosis. My correspondent says definitely that she has never suspected him of deliberate evil; rather was he acting rightly according to his lights. I maintain, however, that any attempt to dominate others, or in any way to manipulate their minds without their consent, is an unwarrantable intrusion upon their freewill and a crime against the integrity of the soul. How can we judge the intimate spiritual needs of another, especially if that other has not elected to confide in us? What right have we to invade his spiritual privacy and thrust our tampering fingers into the wheels of his innermost being? It is so common a practice to send the names of people to healing circles with a request that they should be concentrated upon, without taking the preliminary precaution of asking their permission, that I have heard it announced from the platform of a large Spiritualist public meeting that only those cases could be taken up which gave their written consent. Fortunately for all concerned, the proceedings at such “healing circles” are usually so futile that nobody need mind being concentrated upon by them even if they were attempting murder. The principle, however, remains, and I can only record my opinion once more, as I have already recorded it many times, that such a proceeding is an outrageous breach of good manners and good faith, and contrary to all occult tradition. I think I can honestly say that I have never wished to direct the great currents of destruction upon my fellow-occultists, but there are some of them I would like to get face downwards across my knee!
For further reading on Psychic Self Defence and Dion Fortune
7 Basic Psychic Self Defense and Energy Protection Techniques
Introduction to Psychic Self Defense