Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune
Part I TYPES OF PSYCHIC ATTACK
SIGNS OF PSYCHIC ATTACK
IF we look at the universe around us we cannot fail to realise that there must be some overruling plan co-ordinating its infinite complexity. If we take into our hands and examine minutely any living thing, however simple, equally must we realise that the ordered diversity of its parts is built up on a determining framework. Science has sought in vain for this organising principle; it will never find it on the physical plane, for it is not physical. It is not the inherent nature of atoms which causes them to arrange themselves in the complex patterns of living tissues. The driving forces of the universe, the framework upon which it is built up in all its parts, belong to another phase of manifestation than our physical plane, having other dimensions than the three to which we are habituated, and perceived by other modes of consciousness than those to which we are accustomed.
We live in the midst of invisible forces whose effects alone we perceive. We move among invisible forms whose actions we very often do not perceive at all, though we may be profoundly affected by them.
In this mind-side of nature, invisible to our senses, intangible to our instruments of precision, many things can happen that are not without their echo on the physical plane. There are beings that live in this invisible world as fish live in the sea. There are men and women with trained minds, or special aptitudes, who can enter into this invisible world as a diver descends to the ocean-bed. There are also times when, as happens to a land when the sea-dykes break, the invisible forces flow in upon us and swamp our lives.
Normally this does not occur. We are protected by our very incapacity to perceive these invisible forces. There are four conditions, however, in which the veil may be rent and we may meet the Unseen. We may find ourselves in a place where these forces are concentrated. We may meet people who are handling these forces. We may ourselves go out to meet the Unseen, led by our interest in it, and get out of our depth before we know where we are; or we may fall victim to certain pathological conditions which rend the veil.
The Threshold of the Unseen is a treacherous coast on which to bathe. There are potholes and currents and quicksands. The strong swimmer, who knows ±he coast, may venture in comparative safety. The non-swimmer, who takes counsel of nothing but his own impulses, may pay for his temerity with his life. But we must not make the mistake of thinking that these invisible forces are necessarily evil and inimical to humanity. They are no more inimical in themselves than are water or fire, but they are potent. If we run counter to them, the result is disastrous for us, for we have broken a natural law; but they are not out to attack us, any more than we are out to attack them. We must face the fact, however, that men and women with knowledge of these things, have, both in the past and in the present, used that knowledge unscrupulously, and that we may find our selves involved in the results of their actions. It may safely be said that the Unseen is only evil and inimical to humanity when it has been corrupted and perverted by the activities of these unscrupulous men and women, whom initiates call adepts of the Left-hand Path.
We must consider the outward and visible signs of psychic attack before we are in a position to analyse the nature of such attacks and indicate their source of origin. It is a fundamental rule that diagnosis must precede treatment. There are many different kinds of psychic attacks, and the methods that will dispose of one will be ineffectual against another.
The commonest form of psychic attack is that which proceeds from the ignorant or malignant mind of our fellow human beings. We say ignorant as well as malignant, for all attacks are not deliberately motived; the injury may be as accidental as that inflicted by a skidding car. This must always be borne in mind, and we should not impute malice or wickedness as a matter of course when we feel we are being victimised. Our persecutor may himself be a victim. We should not accuse a man of malice if we had linked hands with him and he had stepped on a live rail. Nevertheless, we should receive at his hands a severe shock. So it may be with many an occult attack. The person from whom it emanates may not have originated it. Therefore we should never respond to attack by attack, thus bringing ourselves down to the moral level of our attackers, but rely upon more humane methods, which are, in reality, equally effectual and far less dangerous to handle.
People also come into touch with the Unseen through the influence of places. Someone who is not actually psychic, but who is sufficiently sensitive to perceive the invisible forces subconsciously, may go to a place where they are concentrated at a high tension. Normally, although we move in the midst of these forces (for they sustain our universe), we are oblivious of them. Where they are concentrated, however, unless we are very dense-minded, we begin to be dimly conscious of something that is affecting us and stirring our subliminal self.
It may happen that the barrier between consciousness and subconsciousness is dense in some people, and they are never able clearly to realise what is going on. They merely have the sense of oppression and general malaise, which lifts when they go away to another place. Consequently, the condition may never be detected, and lead to years of ill-health and misery.
More commonly, however, if there is a definite psychic attack of sufficient force to make itself noticeable at all, there will soon begin to appear characteristic dreams. These may include a sense of weight upon the chest, as if someone were kneeling on the sleeper. If the sense of weight is present, it is certain that the attack emanates locally, for the weight is due to the concentration of etheric substance or ectoplasm, and is sufficiently tangible to press down the scale of a balance when it is possible to capture it for measurement. A great deal of research has been done with materialising mediums upon the nature of this tangible subtle substance, and the reader is referred to the books on the experiments conducted by Crawford with the Goligher Circle at Belfast, and in Paris with Eva C. by other experimenters, for further information and evidence on this subject. It may be noted that Crawford eventually committed suicide for no known reason.
A sense of fear and oppression is very characteristic of. occult attack, and one of the surest signs that herald it. It is extremely rare for an attack to make itself manifest out of the blue, as it were. We are not in our normal state of mind, body and circumstance, and then find ourselves suddenly in the midst of an invisible battle. An approaching occult influence casts its shadow on consciousness before it makes itself apparent to the non-psychic. The reason for this is that we perceive subconsciously before we realise consciously, and a line of creeping shade indicates the penetrating of the subconscious censor from below upwards.
As the attack progresses, nervous exhaustion becomes increasingly marked, and there may, under certain conditions, which we will consider later, be such wasting of the tissues that the victim is reduced to a mere bloodless shell of skin and bones, lying on the bed, too weak to move. And yet no definite disease can be demonstrated.
Such a case is an extreme example, proceeding unchecked to its logical conclusion. Other issues are possible, however. The resistance may be good, in which case the attack is unable to gain a foothold on the physical plane, and is limited to that borderland between matter and mind which we perceive upon the threshold of sleep. This is a very terrible experience, for the victim is afraid to sleep and cannot keep awake indefinitely. Worn out by fear and lack of sleep, mental breakdown soon supervenes.
Nervous exhaustion and mental breakdown are the commoner results of astral attack among white people, for in Europe at any rate it is not often that an attacker is able to bring the attack to a conclusion in the death of the victim. There are, however, records of cases where the victim has died of pure fright. Kipling’s terrible story, The End of the Passage, gives an account of such an occurrence.
But in addition to the purely subjective phenomena, there will also be objective ones if the attack has any degree of concentration. The phenomenon of repercussion is well known, the phenomenon wherein that which befalls the subtle body is reflected in the dense body, so that after an astral skirmish during sleep, bruises are found on the physical body, sometimes bruises of a definite pattern. I have seen the print of a goat’s hoof and the ace of clubs marked upon the skin as well-defined bruises, passing from blue to yellow and dying away in the course of a few days, as bruises will.
Evil odours are another manifestation of an astral attack. The characteristic smell is of decomposing flesh, and it comes and goes capriciously; but while it is manifesting, there is no doubt whatever about it, and anyone who is present can smell it, whether they are psychic or not. I have also known a frightful stench of drains arise when a ritual belonging to the Element of Earth was being incorrectly performed.
Another curious phenomenon is the precipitation of slime. I have not actually seen this myself, but I have first-hand information upon good authority of one such case. The marks are sometimes as if an army of slugs had been marching in ordered formation; sometimes there is a broad smear of slime, and at others, distinct footprints, often of gigantic size. In the case to which I refer, of which I heard from an eye-witness, the marks were like the foot prints of an elephant, enormous tracks on the floor of the drawing-room of a bungalow situated near the sea.
Odd footprints appearing from nowhere and leading nowhere, are sometimes observed when there is snow about. I have seen them on two occasions on the roof of an out building. They alighted upon the edge of it, as if the walker had stepped off an aeroplane, went straight across, and ended abruptly at the wall of the main building upon which the lean-to abuts. They did not return. A single line of footprints came from nowhere and ended in a lofty wall.
A similar happening took place on a very extensive scale in Devon some fifty years ago, and an account of it is to be found in that very curious book, Oddities, by Commander Gould. In this case, however, the prints were not human, but were those of what was apparently the hoof of a donkey, proceeding in a single line and going straight through walls and over roofs and covering the best part of a couple of hundred miles in a single night on both sides of an unbridged estuary. Those who want confirmatory evidence would do well to consult Commander Gould’s book, where the incident is given in detail.
There is a curious phenomenon known to occultists as the astral bell; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle makes use of it in one of his Sherlock Holmes stories. This sound varies from a dear, bell-like note to a faint click. I have often heard it resemble the sound made by striking a cracked wine-glass with a knife-blade. It commonly announces the advent of an entity that is barely able to manifest, and need not necessarily be a herald of evil at all. It may simply be a knock on the door of the physical world to attract the attention of the inhabitants to the presence of one who stands without and would speak with them. If, however, it occurs in the presence of other symptoms of an astral attack, it would give strong evidence in confirmation of the diagnosis.
Inexplicable outbreaks of fire are also sometimes seen in this connection. These indicate that elemental forces, not human, are at work. Poltergeist phenomena also occur, in which objects are flung about, bells rung and other noisy manifestations take place. Of course there may be multiplicity of phenomena, more than one type appearing in the same case.
Needless to say, the possibility of some natural, material explanation must never be ignored, even in cases where the supernatural element appears most obvious. It should always be diligently sought in every possible direction before any supernormal hypothesis is considered worthy of attention. But on the other hand, we should not be so wedded to materialistic theories that we refuse to take a psychic theory as a working hypothesis if it shows any possibility of being fruitful. After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and if, working on an occult hypothesis, we are able to clear up a case which has resisted all other methods of handling, we have pretty good evidence in support of our contention.
We must also bear in mind that the element of deliberate fraud may enter into the most unexpected places. I have seen a drug addict successfully pass himself off for a considerable length of time as the victim of an occult attack. A recent writer in the British Medical Journal declared that whenever he came across a case of bell-ringing, knocks, the dripping of water and oil from ceilings, and other untoward happenings, he always looked for the hysterical maidservant. Occultists would be very well advised to do likewise before they begin to worry about the Devil. But on the other hand, the wise man, whether occultist or scientist, will not insist upon the hysterical maidservant unless he can catch her red-handed, as he surely will do sooner or later if she is the guilty party.
Forged bank-notes would never gain currency unless there were such a thing as genuine bank-notes. It would never occur to anyone to produce fraudulent psychic phenomena unless there had been some genuine psychic phenomena to act as a pattern for the forgery.
The acceptance of an explanation should rest upon the weight of evidence in its favour, not upon one’s dislike of its alternatives. I plead that the possibility of a non- material explanation should be investigated in cases where the materialistic hypothesis does not yield results. Not in diseases of the brain and nervous system, nor of the ductless glands, nor in repression of the natural instincts, shall we find the explanation in all cases wherein the mind is afflicted. There is more to man than mind and body. We shall never find the clue to the riddle of life until we realise that man is a spiritual being and that mind and body are the garments of his manifestation.
For further reading on Psychic Self Defence and Dion Fortune
7 Basic Psychic Self Defense and Energy Protection Techniques
Introduction to Psychic Self Defense