Extract from the Book
Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune
METHODS OF DEFENCE AGAINST PSYCHIC ATTACK
PHYSICAL ASPECT OF PSYCHIC ATTACK AND DEFENCE
WE have distinguished the various types of psychic attack, we have described the methods that can be employed in carrying them out, and we have also noted the various forms of delusion, fraud and auto-suggestion that may complicate the issue. We are now in a position to discuss the question of diagnosis. Let us consider the whole matter from the practical point of view. Supposing a stranger comes with a story of a psychic attack, what should be our procedure?
We must first of all bear in mind that there is great need of caution in presuming that a psychic attack is being made. Psychic attacks are comparatively rare things. We must not assume we are dealing with one until we have excluded all the other things it can possibly be. Not so long ago I came across a case of alleged obsession which turned out to be neglected constipation, and which was effectually exorcised with castor oil. If there are any physical symptoms at all, even if they are no more than a bad colour or a bad breath, a diagnosis ought to be made by a qualified medical practitioner, for even if the trouble have a predominating psychic element, its origin may be physical. Septic foci are really centres of decomposition, and as such they open the door to low forms of elemental life whose function is to assist in the return of dust to dust. Impurities in the blood-stream may poison the brain. New growths or abscesses may derange its functions. These things can only be recognised by the man who understands the body; other things being equal, the trained man is the better man, and the man with the best training is the best man, and the only place where an adequate training in diagnosis can be obtained is a general hospital. Moreover, should things turn out badly, the only person who can pull the chestnuts out of the fire is the person whose signature the authorities will accept on a certificate. Supposing the patient turns out to be a lunatic, what is the unqualified practitioner going to do with him? A very large proportion of the cases of alleged psychic attack turn out to be lunatics and hysterics. Incipient lunacy is a very hard thing to detect; hysteria is very cunning and plausible; a doctor who is handling human nature in bulk every day of his life will detect either of these two conditions much quicker than the layman who has never met them before.
It may be objected that it is a very difficult thing to find a doctor who will have a sympathetic attitude towards occultism. To argue thus is to misunderstand the position. The doctor is not being asked to co-operate with any occult operation, but to examine for physical disease, and if he finds it, to treat it. He is no more concerned in the occult measures that are taken for the benefit of his patient than he is in the church his patient attends.
If the doctor finds no evidence of organic disease, or some complaint such as varicose veins which can obviously have no bearing on the mental condition, the case may be held to have passed the first test, and we may feel that it is worth while to proceed to the psychic investigation. If the case is a bad one, or the trouble is of long standing, the doctor will probably find that the patient is debilitated, even if there is nothing definitely amiss, and will proceed to treat the condition accordingly. This is all to the good, for the better the physical condition of the patient the more mental control and stamina he will have. Sleeping-draughts, however, should be avoided if possible, and if they have to be administered, then the patient should be watched while he sleeps by someone who knows how to keep an occult guard, and the room in which he sleeps should be purified and sealed. In the ordinary way, if a person who is out on the astral meets with an occult attack, he bolts back to his body like a rabbit to its burrow and wakes up as if from a nightmare; but if the sleep is made unnaturally deep by a sleeping- draught, he cannot wake up, and is locked out on the astral, as it were, which is the last thing one wants in the case of a psychic attack. If a sleeping-draught is considered essential, for it is impossible to go without sleep indefinitely, the person who is watching beside the sleeper should observe carefully any signs that the sleep is being disturbed by dreams, and if he observes muttering or twitching, should immediately perform the necessary banishings and whisper into the ear of the sleeper soothing and reassuring suggestions such as Coue recommends should be done in the case of young children. One of the most distressing features of a psychic attack is that the victim fears to sleep because he feels that in sleep he is defenceless. Those who have read Kipling’s terrible story, “The End of the Passage,” may remember that the victim of the occult attack therein described always went to bed wearing spurs in order that he might rowel himself and so wake up if he were struggling with his invisible enemy during sleep.
There is a great deal that can be done upon the physical plane to help the person who is suffering from an occult attack, and we may as well consider these physical methods while we are upon the subject of the part that can be played by a doctor in dealing with the case. Sunlight is exceedingly valuable because it strengthens the aura and makes it much more resistant. People are often advised to go away into the country on this account, but for the victim of an occult attack to go into the depths of the country may not be the wisest thing, because elemental forces are much more potent away from towns, and if he is threatened by an uprush of atavistic forces, he had better cling to the haunts of men. The sea, too, is an elemental force that is best avoided, for water is an element intimately associated with psychism. Large bodies of water and high mountains should be avoided in choosing a health resort for a person suffering from psychic trouble. The best place is an inland spa. Games, physical training, massage, anything that improves the bodily condition, are invaluable, but long solitary walks should be avoided because there is often a risk of suicide. The person who is the victim of an occult attack should at all costs avoid solitude.
There is another very simple measure which gives immense relief in cases of psychic interference. It is obvious that the attack is made through the psychic centres, therefore any thing which closes those centres will render the victim comparatively immune. It is well known how the stolid, materialistic type of person can live with impunity in haunted houses that drive the sensitive to madness and suicide. It is also well known that psychic work cannot be performed if there is food in the stomach; the best results are always obtained when fasting. The obvious corollary of these facts is that if we want to keep the psychic centres closed, we should not allow the stomach to become empty. The person who is facing a psychic attack should not go more than two hours without food.
Certain important psychic centres are in the head. One of the simplest ways of checking their activity is by drawing the blood down from the head. This can be done effectually by a hot bath or putting the feet in hot mustard and water. Another important centre is the solar plexus; during a psychic attack this is often felt to be tense and distressing. A large hot-water bottle,well filled so that it is heavy as well as hot, laid upon the solar plexus, which is the hand-breadth between the pit of the stomach and the ribs, will effectually relieve tension in that spot. Indeed, pressure without heat will give relief, and I have known cases where a firm pad held in place by a belt or corsets gave much comfort.
Above all things, the bowels should be kept freely open while facing a psychic attack, because there is nothing that puts one at so great a disadvantage as the accumulation of effete matter within the body.
All these simple physical remedies are readily available. They will not afford a cure for psychic pathologies, nor a complete defence from psychic attack, but they can give great relief from distress; they enable the victim to put up a much more effectual resistance, and by relieving the strain, they increase his endurance. In many cases of psychic attack, he who endures longest wins; psychic attacks by human beings are not things which can be maintained indefinitely because they use up too much energy.
There is an old adage, “Never use a big spade if a little spade will do.” Physical methods of defence involve much less outlay of energy than psychic ones, therefore it is psychically economical to make as much use of them as possible. Why trouble to exorcise the earth elementals with a ritual if you can do it with a pill?
The question of diet also requires to be considered in this connection. The widespread propaganda of the Theosophical Society has caused vegetarianism to be regarded as a sine qua non of occult training. This, however, is not the case. The Western Esoteric Tradition does not make vegetarianism any part of its system, but teaches that a man should partake sparingly and temperately of the food of the land in which he finds himself. Personally I am inclined to think that occultism and vegetarianism are apt to be an injudicious mixture for a European, the result being a hyper-sensitiveness that makes life very difficult in our hard-driving civilisation.
Vegetarianism has to be thoroughly understood and exceedingly well done if it is to be successful, and even so, there is a goodly proportion of people who are incapable of digesting vegetable proteins, which are not nearly so easily dealt with as animal substances. Nothing but experience and experimentation can show whether a vegetarian diet suits a given person. Indigestion is not the only indication that all is not well. Loss of appetite, loss of energy, loss of weight, or a flabby stoutness are all danger signals which if disregarded will cause chronic ill-health. Vegetarianism may agree with a person well enough at first, but after a considerable period, possibly years, they may find that they are becoming subject to neuritis, neuralgia, sciatica, or one or another of the nerve pains. This is a sure indication that a vegetarian diet is affording insufficient nourishment, not because it does not contain the necessary food units, but because the digestion is unable to assimilate them and they are passing out of the body unchanged. Wherever there is a history of neuralgic pains complicating a case of psychic disturbance, I should be inclined to suspect chronic malnutrition as the cause of a hypertrophied psychism. In such cases it will probably be found that a gradual return to a nourishing mixed diet will bring about a reduction of the hyper-sensitiveness, the undesirable contacts that have been formed will fade, and the condition return to normal. The change of diet, however, should always be made gradually lest the digestion be upset.
Anyone who is having trouble with psychic disturbance should immediately discontinue all occult practices and should exchange his habitual meditations for the prayers of his childhood, or New Thought methods. It is no time to open up the psychic centres when there is astral trouble. The thing to do in such cases is to get back on to the physical plane and stop there resolutely. There was a picture in an old number of Punch which to my way of thinking exactly expresses the correct attitude for the person afflicted by psychic trouble. In front of an old-fashioned four-poster bedstead stands a ferocious female armed with a rolling-pin, and from under the valance protrudes the head of her spouse, who says, “Ye may whack me, and ye may thwack me, but ye canna break my manly spirit, for I’ll no cam’ oot.”
If the victim of an occult attack concentrates on mundane things he is a heart-breaking proposition for any sorcerer. What is the sorcerer to do if, at the time when he is operating the Black Art, his victim is at the local cinema roaring at the antics of Charley Chaplin? There is an old saying that one nail drives out another. If in fear of invisible dangers, take up a sport with an element of risk in it.
For further reading on Psychic Self Defence and Dion Fortune
7 Basic Psychic Self Defense and Energy Protection Techniques
Introduction to Psychic Self Defense