Psychic Self Defence Ch. 2 – Analysis of the Nature of Psychic Attack


Analysis of the Nature of Psychic AttackExtract from the Book

Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune




THE essence of a psychic attack is to be found in the principles and operations of telepathic suggestion. If we put together what we know of telepathy and what we know of suggestion, we shall understand its modus operandi.

Suggestion is of three kinds: Auto-suggestion, Conscious Suggestion and Hypnotic Suggestion. The distinction, however, is not as fundamental as at first sight appears; for the goal of all suggestions in the subconscious mind is the same, and they do not become operative until, it is reached. Suggestion is distinguished from threats and appeals to reason by the fact that these aim at a mark in the conscious mind. If they succeed, they owe their success to the acquiescence of the conscious personality, whether coerced or voluntary. But suggestion does not make its appeal to consciousness, but aims at laying its hands upon the springs of action in the subconsciousness and manipulating them from there.

We might compare these two processes to the operation of pulling at the bell-knob outside the front door and taking up a floor-board and twitching the bell-wires themselves. The result will be the same in both cases, the bell will ring. Threats and argument pull the bell-knob with varying degrees of emphasis, from the persistent tinkling of moral suasion to the resounding peal of the blackmailer. Suggestion twitches the wires at various points in their course.

Auto-suggestion is given by one’s own conscious mind to one’s own subconscious mind. Now, you may ask, why can I not give orders to my subconscious mind direct, without having to resort to the paraphernalia of suggestion? The answer to this question is very simple. The subconscious mind belongs to a much earlier phase of evolution than the conscious mind; belongs, in fact, to a phase prior to the development of speech. To address it in words, therefore, is like speaking to a man in a language he does not understand, In order to deal with him we must have resort to sign-language. So it is with the subconscious mind. It is no use to say to it, Do this: or, Don’t do that. We must make a mental picture of the thing we want done and hold it in consciousness till it begins to sink into the subconsciousness. The subconscious mind will understand this picture, and act upon it.

The actor who wishes to cure himself of stage-fright will fail to do so if he says to his subconscious mind, “Don’t be frightened,” for a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse. Equally, if he makes a mental picture of stage fright and says to his subliminal self, “Now don’t do that,” the result will be disastrous, for the subliminal self will see the picture and omit the negative, because the word “not” means nothing to it. In order to handle the subconscious mind effectually, we make a mental picture of the thing we want done and hold it in mind by repeated applications until the subconsciousness begins to be influenced and takes up the task of its own accord.

This is the end-result of all suggestion, and the different kinds of suggestion are distinguished, not by the difference in end-result, but by the gate through which they enter the subconscious mind. Auto-suggestion originates in our own consciousness; waking suggestion originates in the mind of another and is conveyed to our mind by the ordinary channels of the spoken or written word; hypnotic suggestion enters the subconscious mind direct, without impinging upon consciousness at all.

Hypnotic suggestion (which means, literally, suggestion made during sleep, and is to some extent a misnomer) is of three kinds: firstly, true hypnotic suggestion, made when the subject has been rendered insensible by magnetic passes or fixation of the eyes on a bright object; secondly, suggestion given during normal sleep, as Coue advises should be done with children, in my opinion a most undesirable proceeding; and, thirdly, telepathic suggestion. All these modes of suggestion enter the mind behind the censor; that is to say, they are independent of consciousness, which is neither asked to co-operate, nor has the power to inhibit them.

In most cases, suggestions made in this way are never recognised as coming from outside, but are only discovered after they have matured in the subconsciousness and are beginning to take effect. We do not see the invisible seed, that has been sown in our mind by the mind of another, but in due course germination takes place and the strong-growing shoot appears above the threshold of consciousness as if it were a native growth. The skillful suggestionist always aims at making his suggestions harmonise with the bias of the personality; for if they do not, the established sub-conscious complexes will expel them before they have time to strike root. All he can really do is to reinforce and stimulate the ideas and impulses that are already there, though perhaps latent. He cannot plant an entirely alien seed. He cannot graft a rose-shoot on a lilac bush, for it will merely wither and die.

For growth of the thought-seeds of suggestion to take place they must find a congenial soil. It is herein lies the strength of the defence. We may not be able to prevent the minds of others from sending us suggestions, but we may so purify the soil of our own natures that no harmful ones can find a congenial seed-bed. It is a simple matter to pull up a seedling nettle, but it is quite a different business to eradicate a thickset bank of tangled roots and stinging shoots, many years old.

It has been said, and not untruly, that a person cannot be hypnotised into doing anything which is contrary to his real nature. But what is the real nature of each one of us? Have we all overcome the ape and tiger, or are they merely caged? Suggestion can unbar the cage of all our secret temptations and let them loose upon us. None but the saint is naturally immune. It is possible to reduce anybody to anything provided suggestion has unchecked scope for a sufficient length of time. The purest woman can be made a harlot, the noblest man a murderer under certain conditions. Knowledge is necessary to protect, and it is that knowledge which I intend to give in these pages.

Let us now consider exactly how a psychic attack operates. In the realms of mind there is neither time nor space as we understand them. I do not propose to argue this statement philosophically, but state it as a fact of experience which anyone who is accustomed to operating on the Inner Planes will have shared. If we think of a person, we are in touch with that person. If we picture them clearly, it is as if we were face to face with them. If we picture them vaguely, it is as if we saw them in the distance. Being in the mental vicinity of a person, we can create a thought- atmosphere by dwelling upon certain ideas in connection with him. This is how spiritual healing is done. The affirmations of Christian Science are used in order to get the mind of the healer into a certain emotional state, and his condition effectually influences the mind of the patient with whom he has put himself en rapport.

This power, however, can be used for evil as well as good; the Founder of Christian Science was wise enough to put her teaching in such a way that her students would not readily discern the second edge of the sword. As long as the world in general was ignorant of the powers of the mind, it was better that nothing should be said by those who knew, because the knowledge, if spread abroad indiscriminately, might do more harm than good, giving information to those who ought not to have it. But now that so much is generally known and even practised concerning the powers of the human mind, it is as well that the real facts should also be known and the whole matter brought out into the open, and as far as lies in my power I am prepared to do this.

Any message to the subconscious mind must be couched in very simple terms, because subconscious thought is a primitive form of mentation, developed before spoken language was known to mankind. The primary aim of the suggestion is to create a mental atmosphere about the soul of the person, whether that person is to be attacked or healed, until a sympathetic response or reaction is elicited within the soul itself. (I use the term soul to include both the mental and emotional processes, but to exclude the spiritual ones.) Once this reaction is achieved, the battle is half over, for the gate of the city has been opened from within, and there is free ingress. The telepathic suggestion of definite ideas can now proceed rapidly.

It is this point which is the critical one in any occult attack. Up to this point, the defender has the advantage. If he has sufficient knowledge, the knowledge I hope to make available through this book, he can without any undue exertion retain that advantage indefinitely, and wear his attackers down, even if unable to meet them on their own ground of occult knowledge. There is nothing in this world or the next that a hypnotist can do with the person who keeps his nerve and won’t pay attention.

There are two gates, and two only, by which the attacker can gain entrance to the city of Mansoul, and these are the Self-preservation Instinct and the Sex Instinct. The hypnotic appeal must be couched in terms of one or both of these if it is to be successful. How does the attacker proceed? He has to create an atmosphere about the soul of his victim on the Inner Planes. He can only do this by creating that atmosphere within his own consciousness while he thinks of his victim. If he wants to perform a psychic murder, he must fill his own soul with the rage of destruction until it overflows. If he wants to perform a psychic rape, he must fill his soul with lust and cruelty. The cold rage of cruelty is essential to effectual operations of this nature. Now what happens when he does this? He has sounded a ringing keynote in the Abyss. It will be answered. All beings who have this keynote for the basis of their nature will respond. “Dark Uriel and Azrael and Ammon on the wing – ” and will join in the operation. But they do not operate direct upon the victim, they work through the operator. It is like the old game of Nuts and May, in which the one who is sent “to fetch her away” is gripped round the waist by the leader of a chain of supporters. The real pressure comes on his own abdominal muscles, as anyone who has played the game will remember.

And when the magical operation is over, what then? Will the operator be left to enjoy his victim in peace? Is IT


This is the mystical basis of the story of Faust. The Devil might be not only willing but anxious to enable Dr. Faustus to win Margarita, but he came for his soul at the appointed time. We may also remember that if Margarita had not responded to the lure of the Jewel Song she would not have fallen a victim. The weak spot in the defence was after all in her own nature.

We have considered the modus operandi of telepathic suggestion in detail because it forms the real basis of every kind of occult attack. Whether it be a discarnate entity, a being of another order of evolution, a demon from the Pit, or merely the panic-stricken soul of a selfish friend, clinging to the life of form regardless of consequences, in all cases the opening gambit is the same. Until the aura is pierced, there can be no entrance to the soul, and the aura is always pierced from within by the response of fear or desire going out towards the attacking entity. If we can inhibit that instinctive emotional reaction, the edge of the aura will remain impenetrable, and will be as sure a defence against psychic invasion as the healthy and unbroken skin is a defence against bacterial infection.

It happens sometimes, however, that a rapport has been formed with the attacking entity in a previous incarnation, and therefore it holds, as it were, the key to the postern. Such a problem is a very difficult one, and external assistance is needed for its solution. The difficulty is increased by the fact that the victim is often disinclined to allow the break to be made, being bound to the attacking entity, whether discarnate or incarnate, by bonds of fascination, or even genuine affection.

A case with which I was acquainted throws so much light on various aspects of psychic interference by incarnate souls operating out of their bodies that it is of value to quote it at length.

In the summer of 1926 I saw in the papers a short paragraph describing the death of a certain man and his wife, which took place within a few hours of each other. A couple of years previously I had been consulted by a friend of the wife, who was deeply perturbed about the state of affairs, and suspected psychic interference. The wife, Mrs. C. we will call her, had begun to be troubled by nightmares, waking up in a state of intense fear, hearing the echoes of menacing words ringing in her ears. At about the same time the husband, Mr. C., developed what at first sight looked like epileptic fits. A careful diagnosis by specialists, however, determined that although epileptiform, they were not true epilepsy. Epilepsy is due either to a congenital tendency, whose nature is not fully understood by medical science, or to some injury or disease of the brain. In congenital epilepsy the disease shows itself early in life; in fits due to disease, other symptoms are present which can be detected by a physical examination, such as changes in the eye that are revealed by the opthalmoscope. The diagnosis can therefore be definitely established. Moreover, there is one sure sign by means of which an epileptic fit can be distinguished with certainty from a hysterical or psychic seizure. In true epilepsy the urine is involuntarily voided in the course of the fit. This is a sure sign, and when it is absent we are safe in saying that the fit is not epileptic, whatever else it may be. This is a useful point for those who have to deal with the pathologies that afflict the psychic temperament, for they will see plenty of seizures, and a sure method of distinguishing those that are of organic origin is very useful. We must not, however, conclude that all cases of such incontinence are epileptics, for there are many other causes, both organic and functional.

In the case of Mr. C. this cardinal symptom was lacking. The attacks, moreover, always took place in sleep, and it seemed as if they were more of the form of severe nightmare, verging on somnambulism. It was a curious factor in the case that Mrs. CS nightmares usually heralded Mr. CS attacks.

These occurrences showed a certain cyclic regularity, occurring about once a month. In the case of a woman this would naturally be referred to the twenty-eight day cycle of her nature, but in the case of a man, no such explanation was forthcoming, and we therefore had to look for another twenty-eight day cycle to explain his periodicity. The only other cycle of this period is that of the phases of the moon.

We were then confronted by a correlation of epileptiform attacks, which had no organic basis, the nightmares of a second person, and the phases of the moon. Some theory had to be found which would resume these three and explain their inter-relationship.

A dream is commonly the first way in which psychic manifestations make themselves known, the subconscious perceptions being reflected into consciousness in this form.

It is held by many occultists that congenital epilepsy, as distinguished from that due to tumours of the brain, has its roots in the operations of black magic or witchcraft in which the sufferer participated in a past life, whether as practitioner or victim, the fit being an astral struggle with a discarnate entity, reflected on the physical body by means of the well-known phenomenon of repercussion.

The moon plays a very important part in all occult operations, different tides being available at different phases of her cycle. Persephone, Diana and Hecate, all aspects of Luna, are three very different persons.

It therefore appeared probable that as the physical investigation had drawn blank, a psychic investigation might yield fruits. One was performed. And with the following results.

Nothing at all was discerned with regard to Mrs. C. She was merely what lawyers call an accessory after the fact. But the psychic trail of Mr. C. was soon picked up and followed, and it appeared that in his last incarnation he had been associated with two women, mother and daughter, who had practised witchcraft for his benefit. The younger of the two women had been for a short time his mistress. Mother and daughter had paid the penalty for their crimes, but their male partner had escaped.

The diagnosis was as follows: It is the younger witch that is at the bottom of the trouble. It is her astral visits which cause the seizures of Mr. C. and the nightmares of Mrs. C., and they correlate with the phases of the moon because certain phases are favourable for the operation she performs and she therefore takes advantage of them. The question now remains, is this woman in incarnation or not? That is to say, is the midnight visit paid in an astral body projected from a living human being, or by an earth-bound spirit which has succeeded in evading the Second Death?

Mrs. C. had by now been taken into the confidence of the mutual friend who was concerned for her welfare, and lent a ready ear to the suggestion that some psychic influence might be at the bottom of the trouble, for this explanation coincided with her own intuitions in the matter, intuitions she had not dared to divulge for fear of ridicule.

When asked if she could identify anyone in the circle of her husband’s acquaintances who might prove to be the younger witch, she replied immediately that she could with out any difficulty identify both the women, and told the following curious story.

The older witch she identified as her husband’s mother, an aged lady who occupied a suite of rooms in their house. For this inoffensive old creature Mrs. C. had always had a peculiar horror and repulsion, although admitting there were no rational grounds for it, and honestly endeavouring to do her duty by her. So great was her horror of the old lady that she would never remain in the house after her husband had left for his office in the morning, but went out herself to her club if she had no other engagement.

Among the frequenters of the house was an intimate friend of the elder Mrs. C., a woman of peculiar psychic temperament, who always called the old lady mother and was singularly attached to her, She was also very attached to Mr. C., but her feelings never exceeded, outwardly at any rate, the bounds of propriety, and Mr. C., who was sincerely attached to his own wife, never paid the slightest attention to her, looking upon her as his mother’s friend, and as such to be tolerated.

Mrs. C. unhesitatingly identified Miss X., as we will call her, as the younger witch. Enquiries were then made regarding her history, and a very curious story unfolded.

As a young girl she had become engaged to a man who, soon after the engagement was announced, had developed galloping consumption and died after a short illness with a violent hemorrhage.

Soon after this, Miss Xs sister also became engaged, and by a strange fatality her lover shared the same fate, dying as died the other man, in a flood of his own blood.

Years went by, and Miss X. became engaged again. Soon the second lover fell ill, not, this time, with galloping consumption, but with a more lingering form of the complaint, in which hemorrhage was the principle symptom. He seemed to linger on from hemorrhage to hemorrhage, and this went on for years. Miss X., a woman of considerable private means, took a house, installed an aunt as a chaperone, and took her fiance to live there and be nursed by her. Soon the aunt developed symptoms of illness; she appeared to be drained of all vitality and for days at a time would lie unconscious, but no specific cause was ever discovered for her illness. This peculiar menage continued for years, Miss

X. living in her big house with these two moribund creatures lingering on from attack to attack.

She was a constant visitor at the home of the CS, both during the lifetime of Mr. CS first wife and that of his second, the friend of my friend. On the death of Mr. CS first wife she had great hopes, it was observed, that his attentions would turn towards herself, but they did not; nevertheless she swallowed her chagrin, and succeeded in maintaining her foothold as an intimate friend of the family when the new Mrs. C. came to preside over the household.

Certain methods of protection were suggested to Mrs. C. which helped her considerably, but it was not possible to exclude Miss X. from the house owing to her intimacy with the old lady. In due course, however, old Mrs. C. was gathered to her fathers, and then young Mrs. C. put her foot down and said she would have no more to do with Miss X. Mr. C. concurred in this, as he had always had a repulsion for Miss X., and had only tolerated her for his mother’s sake.

Soon after this Mrs. C. began to feel unwell, the indisposition slowly progressed, until finally, although she had no definite symptoms, she was obliged to consult a doctor on account of her steadily increasing weakness and sense of malaise. A diagnosis of rapidly growing cancer of the womb was made. An operation was performed, which gave temporary relief, it was not expected to do any more, and she went downhill steadily.

Towards the end she lapsed into unconsciousness, and at the same time, Mr. C. also became unconscious, apparently having one of his seizures in sleep, from which he never awakened. They died within a few hours of each other.

Mr. C.’s first wife had also died of cancer of the womb.

About this time Miss X.’s aunt and fiance died within a short time of each other, and the last that was heard of Miss X. was that she had been removed to a nursing-home in the country with a severe mental breakdown.

Taken separately, any of the incidents in this strange eventful history can be explained away, but taken together they make a curious story, especially when it is remembered that without any previous information a psychic investigation had “spotted” the existence of a person with abnormal faculties who was interested in Mr. C.

Cancer is a disease upon which certain occult hypotheses throw a good deal of light. It is believed to be a disease of the etheric double, not of the physical body, and that a “Cancer Elemental” is the infective factor.

To prove or disprove anything concerning the foregoing story is impossible, but the following occult hypothesis may explain much. If this hypothesis be not accepted, readers may find an interesting exercise for their ingenuity in constructing another that shall explain more satisfactorily the circumstances of the case.

Miss X. retained subconsciously the knowledge and powers that had been hers during the previous life when she was implicated in the witch-cult. She also retained her passion for Mr. C., a passion which was obviously unrequited, She employed her power of projection of the astral body to visit Mr. C. at night, during sleep. In the absence of details it is impossible to decide definitely whether the “fit” of Mr. C. was a struggle or an embrace. It might be either, or it might be both, an initial struggle ending in an embrace. The dreams of Mrs. C. obviously related to the same astral visitant who caused the seizures of Mr. C. There is, unfortunately, no record to show at what phase of the moon these attacks took place, but presumably at the Hecate phase, which is the period of evil witchcraft.

The condition of Miss Xs fiance and aunt and the death of her first lover point markedly towards vampirism. It is difficult to believe that a consumptive would continue for so many years without his disease either being checked or making definite progress. It is difficult to say what the connection, if any, might be between Miss X. and the death of her sister’s lover, but it is a curious thing that three men, associated with this ill-omened household as prospective husbands, should lose their lives in the same way. This, together with the mysterious illness of the aunt, are very suspicious. As noted before, any one of these incidents could be explained away, but taken together they call for thought. It is also curious that Miss X. should keep her fiance in her house and yet not marry him, from every normal point of view an arrangement with many drawbacks and no advantages. On the other hand, if her feelings were fixed upon Mr. C. and were obtaining satisfaction by astral visits, she would naturally not want to break her rapport with the man she loved by giving herself to the man she did not love. If she were a vampire, her motive for keeping the aunt and lover in her house, and their condition, would be readily explained. Also her breakdown, which followed immediately upon their deaths.

The fact that Mr. CS first wife died of cancer of the womb does not in itself call for remark, but it is a curious thing that he should lose his second wife from the same disease. Cancer is not as common as all that, and in any case, there are many available sites beside the womb. On the other hand, Diana, one of the aspects of Luna, of whom Hecate, the goddess of witches, was another, presides over the female reproductive organs.

The illness of Mrs. C. began to show itself soon after Miss X. was excluded from the house.

Finally, what shall we say concerning the deaths of the three people most intimately associated with Miss X. within a short time of each other, and her immediate break down? In the absence of details any conclusion must be guesswork, but we have good grounds for supposing that Miss Xs magical operations were attended by some mishap.

It may be said that such a theory is the wildest improbability and does violence to all the laws of evidence. Let it, however, be born in mind that two years before these matters eventuated, the work of a witch in connection with Mr. CS epileptiform attacks was suspected and the nature of her relationship to him was indicated; and subsequent enquiries revealed the curious facts in connection with Miss Xs history and menage; let it also be noted that the happenings which subsequently occurred are such as have been recorded in many accounts of witch-trials. It is a scientific maxim that the power to foretell the course of phenomena is a good indication of the truth of a theory.

Further Reading

For further reading on Psychic Self Defence and Dion Fortune
7 Basic Psychic Self Defense and Energy Protection Techniques
Introduction to Psychic Self Defense
Dion Fortune