Magical Targeting and Resistance

This is a sequel to an earlier post, “On Cursing and Being Cursed: a Hermetic Perspective.”  In that post, I talked about my vision (based on The Kybalion’s Hermetic “Principle of Mentalism) of how a curse can take root in the energy field (the aura) of a target:

[A] curse will function by creating its vibration in the target, who will then radiate that vibration (usually without knowing it) into various aspects of his life.  All retribution and judgment begins with the Self or, as The Kybalion puts it in “The Principle of Mentalism,” “All is Mind.”

If the target, truly in the deep core of himself, believes he doesn’t deserve to suffer, he will resist the curse vibration on some level.  But, of course, to resist something is also to have a relationship with it.  This is how an unjustified curse can make mischief in the life of an innocent.  Essentially, by resisting, the innocent (consciously or unconsciously) accepts the reality of having to resist a curse and is then struggling against it and feeling some of its effects.  But those effects are usually short-lived, if still upsetting.

Since I wrote this, two different readers have asked me the same question: if the target has to accept the curse vibration, why can’t a target just decide not to accept?  After all, nobody wants to be cursed, right?

My first response to this question is to refer the reader back to the quoted paragraphs above.  In my view, there has to be “acceptance” of the curse vibration in the target, but I’m suggesting that there is more to the mind than just our conscious everyday awareness.  When a curse is effective, such acceptance takes place on a very deep level. 

I believe we have many levels of “self.”  But, for the purposes of this discussion, let’s say that we at least have something called an “unconscious,” aka an “inner child” or “deep self.”  These terms are not perfectly synonymous, but they all point to an inner dimension in us which is alive and aware but which operates according to different rules than our everyday, responsible, rational minds.

Everything that seems true and authentic without us being fully able to explain why (“I have a good feeling about this”) resonates with this deep self.  Gut reactions, hunches, psychic experiences, déjà vu, all kinds of things that seem mysterious to our daily conscious awareness originate in this deep self (which I also believe is the location of magical link or energetic connection point to everything else in existence, but that is material for a different post).

The deep self doesn’t function as a responsible citizen of the world; it’s not socially acceptable.  It runs on urges, fear, lust, the Pleasure Principle.  It loves and hates.  And sometimes it passes judgement on the Self as a whole without the person even being aware of it.  We might be able to consciously rationalize why we did a certain thing, but the deep self may still feel a lot of self-blame, guilt, and shame about it.  Such self-judgement is how one accepts the vibration of a curse.  In some way, a person has already decided that they should be punished.  The curse vibration shows up at the edge of the aura and says, “Hello, I’m the essence of this punishment.”  And the deep self answers, “Come in.  I’ve been expecting you.”

Resistance comes when the deep self hasn’t passed this judgment.  The curse vibration shows up and the deep self answers, “I don’t deserve this punishment!”  Then a struggle ensues with the curse trying to convince the deep self to let it in and the deep self refusing.  This is what happens when an innocent is cursed.  Some of the curse effects will take place in a minor way because the curse is saying “You deserve to be punished!” and eventually the innocent deep self will ask, “Why?” which will let a little bit of the curse in past the outer barrier of the aura.  But if the deep self is truly convinced of its innocence, the majority of the curse will not get through.  There will be no acceptance of that vibration.

There is a way around this, however.  The aura can only withstand so much before it is overwhelmed.  Think of it this way: if you tie someone up in a basement and scream something in that person’s face every day for a long time, what you scream will eventually become the person’s reality.  In mundane life, this is called “brainwashing” and it is sadly real.  But it takes a long time to break a person’s resistance down to the point at which they accept an alternate vision of themselves and the world, maybe years.  It takes far less time with magic.

This is a darker application of what we call “duration work”—magic worked over a consistent period of time.  This is also why some practitioners, especially hoodoo workers and ATR professional sorcerers employed to curse and cross others, claim no one has ever resisted one of their workings.  It is simply because they set up long-term curses that they maintain every day.  So no matter what a person truly believes about themselves on a deep level, whether they feel they deserve the punishment or not, they will eventually let it in.*  You can only say “no” so many times before you say “yes.”

This works even when a person is so innocent that he or she doesn’t even understand the situation.  Consider what “innocence” actually is: it’s a combination of ignorance and sincerity.  When a person is sincere, she is not lying or pretending or otherwise being false.  When she is ignorant, she lacks experience and doesn’t possess the knowledge that comes from having taken part.  Both of these qualities can be altered through violent brainwashing (i.e. convincing someone that they’re actually a blameworthy imposter—actually very similar to “gaslighting”) and, on a magical level, keeping up a vibratory assault on a person’s aura over time.  When no becomes yes, even an innocent person will then say, “I deserve to be punished.”

Is this evil?  In many cases, it is certainly that.  But nothing is absolute.  Sometimes, even an innocent person will deserve to be targeted with hostile magic.  Consider the situation where a sociopathic teen is mocking and tormenting a disabled classmate on a regular basis (something I saw first-hand years ago when I was a high school teacher).  The bully has a messed-up home life and enjoys taking out his frustration by releasing it on a defenceless target.  This is abhorrent to most people, but this kid doesn’t understand how much suffering he’s causing.  All he can see is his own pain and how much better it feels to be the torturer instead of the tortured.

In this case, the bully is “innocent.”  He is ignorant of the significance of his actions and sincere in the sense that he doesn’t really know what’s going on.  He doesn’t have the knowledge and experience of choosing to be a bully; he’s just an snarling little animal striking out.  And this innocence might protect him the way it often protects children from magical creatures and harmful workings.  But let’s also say that the bullying is not stopping and the disabled kid is in now danger of taking his own life; none of the parents want to be involved; and the school is so poorly run that no one will do anything.  But something must be done.  In this situation, baneful magic (note: not lethal magic, but potent enough to stop someone from continuing a course of action) is indicated.  Even though the bully is relatively innocent, he needs strong medicine.

Obviously, the above example comes from my real-life observations.  I will add that I did use magic to solve the situation and protect the disabled student.  And it worked.  But it caused a lot of distress to the bully, which was appropriate and not pretty.  This is to say that nothing is open-and-shut, black-and-white.  There are no absolutes, only shades of gray.  It’s up to us to determine the highest good based on our subjective conditioning, values, and life experiences. 

So it’s good to know how to overwhelm magical resistance in others.  Although, this knowledge can be dangerous in the hands of an unethical person and it is not a license to go cursing others with impunity.  I don’t believe in new-age concepts of karma and Law of Return, but I do believe that what goes around comes around because what we do defines our character.  And character is destiny.


* A crafty sorcerer will also include elements that drain a person’s inner resistance to make the resistance collapse more quickly.

When it Looks Like a Curse, Don’t Go to a “Lightworker”

The only thing more pathetic than the term, “spiritual entrepreneur,” is the individual who describes him- or herself that way. It may seem a bit ironic that I’m saying this, given that I practice public sorcery and charge for such services. But there is definitely a difference between a “spiritual entrepreneur” and a “spiritual worker” as the terms are commonly understood and used.

A spiritual worker is a magical individual (rootdoctor, sorcerer, Reiki master, herbalist, card reader, etc.) who provides a set of spiritual services to a community. These days, that includes an online community. This person may work through various established spiritual traditions and usually tries to educate and counsel his or her clientele. For example, my Black Snake Conjure is not only dedicated to conjure, evocation, and Reiki. It’s also committed to fostering multiculturalism, tolerance, and sharing across ethnic and spiritual boundaries. I do this work not just for my own monetary benefit but also to teach the art of magic and, in the process, to make the world a better place.

Conversely, a spiritual entrepreneur may or may not be a magical individual but will try hard to seem like one (using the most trendy suburban Wiccan* or new age styles, keywords, and assumptions). This person promotes a spiritual technique, product, or service, relying heavily on e-marketing, focused spam via “newsletters,” usually a content-lite YouTube channel, and niche customer targeting to generate as much passive income as possible. A spiritual entrepreneur’s focus is on his or her multi-platform business first, then content, then the clients. For this person, it’s all about the “brand.” If you go to YouTube and type in one of the key words associated with spiritual entrepreneurialism, “witchy,” you will get a veritable phone book of unimaginative cliché examples. After watching one or two of those videos and looking at the linked websites, you wouldn’t be wrong to wonder whether we need another post entitled “Six Signs You Might Be a Witch” or “Crystals Dealing with Toxic Family Energy Over the Holidays” or “Working with Angels and Spirit Guides.”

In the 1990s, more serious (or at least more style conscious) magical people coined the term “fluffy bunny” to describe Wiccans who pretend that they only work with love and light (with an equally pretentious subsequent reaction, “dark fluff”). And many spiritual entrepreneurs still believe that a generous helping of fluff will more easily part a certain type of customer from his or her money. But spiritual entrepreneurialism isn’t about love or “ascension” or, actually, anything at all beyond branding. It’s the most cynical commodification of spirituality available in the West and we see it everywhere. It’s the reason why occult publishers like Llewellyn and Weiser have taken so much criticism from real practitioners over the last 20-30 years, even though they’ve published quality work along with poorly researched, padded, repetitive trash.

Most of what I’m saying here is obvious and anyone who spends time looking through social media and reading Tumblr will quickly come to these conclusions.  As in all things Theodore Sturgeon’s “garbage theory” applies: 90% of a given set of things is crap to support the 10% that isn’t. All well and good. However, it’s not so good when we need spiritual services that actually work.

Uh-oh. Maybe you’ve been cursed. What then? If you think only members of certain ethnic communities worry about curses, you’re dead wrong. Every culture has them. And I can tell you confidently that if you haven’t been the target of a curse or some other form of psychic attack at least once, you will be someday. It’s part of life.

Now imagine you find yourself in a situation where a highly suspicious chain of nasty events is taking place in your life. Maybe you’ve also come down with a case of heavy depression and insomnia. You’re having reversals and problems at work and at home. And all of this happens to coincide with a falling-out you’ve recently had with someone or with some envy-inducing advancement, like a raise or a new relationship or a financial windfall. You say to yourself, why would anyone want to curse me? I haven’t done anything wrong! But curses don’t just work for justice. You can get crossed up by any individual who resents your happiness enough to do something about it.

Most of us, if we’re leading adult lives and not living in a cave, have a sprinkling of enemies who want to see us suffer. Often, a few of those people will either have some metaphysical aptitude or will be willing to go to a sorcerer-for-hire. And many times those people will be very close to us—ex-lovers, family, or coworkers. If you’re a decent person, like most people are, you won’t want to believe it. Jane from accounting?! She’s still bitter about me turning her down but, really, is that enough for her to pay a hoodoo worker to fuck up my life? Sure. Why not? You have no idea what’s going on in her head. She may just frown at you and avoid eye-contact when you pass her in the hallway, but maybe she’s lurking on your Facebook page, spending a lot of time fixating on why you turned her down, etc. With that in mind, do you think it’s so far-fetched that if she has a few books on magic, she might try something? Maybe she starts searching for “love spells” and comes across a professional’s website. And the rest is, as they say, academic.

In a situation like this, do you want to go to a spiritual entrepreneur who charges you $300 to change your vibration with a $10 quartz crystal and some essential oil? Do you want to go to a cute-as-a-button Wiccan girl on YouTube who says she can sage the bad juju away? Really? How about getting a reading from a teenager on Tumblr who snaps it out in just 20 minutes? Because I’ve been contacted by people who’ve taken that route at first. They nearly always write the following: I’ve gotten burned by workers before. Paid a lot of money and nothing happened. Or got a tarot reading and it made no sense / was totally vague. Or so-and-so cursed me and now my life is in tatters and Jenny the Lightworker told me my chakras were just out of balance. And then I have to clean up both the mess that their lives are in and whatever half-baked work the spiritual entrepreneur did (if anything).

All the new-age stuff, all the Wiccan stuff, all the watered-down pop-occult techniques and Law of Attraction and “abundance manifesting” can work. I don’t want to give the impression that “my way is the only way.” The problem is not actually with the techniques. It’s with the branding and the people who think they can make a living off of others by doing very little beyond curating their feeds and smiling into the camera. Most of the clients I get are desperate and sometimes locked in life-or-death circumstances. Many of them have been victims of baneful magic or a deep run of crossed-up luck or some force, whether human or otherwise, holding them down. They have been unjustly harmed and they feel like their options have become very limited. Understandably, they have no sense of humor about this stuff. They’re not playing. They need help and they need it yesterday.

My recommendation is that if you are one of those people in need, do not waste your time on someone surrounded by a lot of slick e-commerce because that’s where all the energy is going. Instead, look for three qualities in a worker: (1) reasonable rates; (2) professionalism (i.e. scheduling, doing a small diagnostic reading in the beginning, providing updates, not seeming money hungry, ethical); and (3) doing more than just protecting and curating their brand / internet presence. It’s important to keep these things in mind if you want to avoid throwing your time, money, and emotion away on someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart.



* I actually love Wicca. I’m not putting it down. I’m putting down those who cynically use it to hook customers in support of a superficial brand.

Taking Money for Death Curses and Other Horrible Mistakes

Many people reading this are too young to have experienced the demented conversation around the film, Indecent Proposal, when it came out in 1993.  The basic premise of the movie is this: two idiots, husband (Woody Harrelson) and wife (Demi Moore) go broke in Vegas.  Suave billionaire (Robert Redford) offers them $1 million if Demi will sleep with him.  After a lot of bad noise, they go through with it and it messes up Demi and Woody’s marriage.  In the end, Redford reveals that he’s a swell guy after all and, using his smile and his holy billionaire bodhisattva powers, helps the husband and wife reconcile (just so the audience doesn’t weep themselves to death by the time the credits roll).  

That’s it.  It was one of those mediocre OMG. What would you do? movies Hollywood likes to put out when there are no big action films getting all the attention.  The movie sucked but it also sucked people in, especially those who get excited by saying cynical things like, “Everybody has their price,” and “You’d do it.  You know you’d do it.  It’s all about the money, baby.”  Right.  Back to Vegas with you and please close your mouth while boarding the plane.

Everyone wanted to say what they would do in the same circumstances.  It gave people an opportunity to either award themselves with a virginal Good Guy Badge or try to bring others down to their level of money-worshipping crudeness by saying that enough of it can ultimately control anyone. 

Even though the plot was very predictable and Demi / Woody / Robert Redford were like walking sock puppets stuffed with tinsel, the movie seemed to encourage a certain egotistical projection and a lot of hot air.  There were magazine articles about it.  The actors went on late night to talk about relationships and morality.  The daytime soaps that had been setting up situations like this for 40 years suddenly enjoyed a surge in popularity.

To us, in 2018, this seems adorable.  We have to deal with Donald Trump and inbred neo-Nazis burning crosses in our streets while our data gets harvested and our ability to freely exchange information gets taken away by corporations killing the planet.  But back in ‘93, Indecent Proposal seemed highly indecent and therefore highly compelling to people aroused by the fantasy of becoming a high-priced sex worker for all the right reasons.  It was stupid.  But that’s how people are sometimes.

Interestingly enough, this was also around the time I started requiring a small tarot reading before I would take magical work for a client.  I had my own “indecent proposal,” which was neither as sensational nor as tame the movie.  

Essentially, a client requested a death curse on her ex-boyfriend.  I’d never done a death curse for pay before.  But she offered me a lot of money.  I mean, it was enough to pay two years of my rent and then some.  I was young, in college, and always had some ongoing form of money magic in play to draw funds.  I got by, but those were lean years.  So getting such a proposal might have been just the thing I needed to keep me fed and keep the lights on.  In retrospect, I’m not sure that my money magic didn’t draw this potential client to me, as sometimes happens with prosperity work.  Like all magic, it takes the path of least resistance.

I said no just on principle, but she kept at me because I’d previously done some road opening work for her that had been very effective and she believed in my skill.  She was South African, very beautiful and charming, very rich, very persuasive.  Lots of “verys” applied to her.  But she was also insanely, murderously angry at her ex.  And even though I kept saying no, I was also powerfully attracted to her and sympathetic to her story.  It was long and convoluted but came down to: he was a bad mean man. I believed it and her.  So it was very tempting, all things considered.  But you can’t just walk around killing people.  Even if it’s at the behest of an exotic beauty with a suitcase full of money.

As a way to clear my head, I did a tarot reading and learned that such a working wouldn’t only be an immoral crime against the target.  It would also mushroom out into the lives of the people around this guy, causing tragedy and harm in people who were totally innocent.  I told the client this, thinking that it would dissuade her, but I should have known better.  She simply doubled the money and implied that she wouldn’t mind flying with me somewhere for a week.  

Quite a proposal, that.  But by then I was also having bad dreams.  My guides and spirits were already telling me not to do it.  I went down to a crossroads by my house at midnight and petitioned the Queen of the Witches for guidance.  She said only a fool would say yes.  And mama didn’t raise no fool.

I gave my client my absolute, definitive “no” answer and I’ve never seen someone go ballistic the way she did.  In the end (because after months of working with her on other matters, I’d taught her enough magic to be a problem all on her own), I had to do things to take her power away and separate myself from her.  It broke my heart, too, because even though she finally revealed herself as a murderous crazy woman, I did consider her a friend.

The moral of this story is not me telling you what kind of magic to do or what is or isn’t ethical.  It’s saying, do a reading, inquire of your oracles, of your gods, spirits, helpers, and protectors.  Ask a mentor when you’re not sure about a certain magical project.  Because the last thing you want to do is misuse this miraculous divine gift for something as stupid as a bucket of money.  

Make your own money in honest and kind ways.  And if that includes honest magic, then all the better.  It’s not all about the money, as much as people like to believe when they’re daydreaming about being Demi or Robert Redford.  Sometimes, maybe most times, it’s about being the only grownup in the room.

On Cursing and Being Cursed: a Hermetic Perspective

Unjustified curses are never as powerful as when they are justified.  This is because in order for a curse to work, the object of the curse has to resonate in sympathy with the curse on some level, usually subconsciously.  But when that person truly believes they do not deserve the curse, they will resist its vibration and the effect will usually be much weaker.

It works like this: the person performing the curse creates that vibration in her subjective universe as in any magical working (which I have at times referred to as “raising energy and putting it into a container”).  The vibration is sent through the Magical Link into the objective universe, where it waits at the periphery of the target’s aura, looking for a way to affect his subjective universe—the sum of all of his inner selves.  As with any type of magic done to influence another, the curse will vibrate in a certain way and attempt to cause a corresponding vibration in the target.

The third Hermetic Principle—that of “Vibration”—given in The Kybalion notes that:

All manifestation of thought, emotion, reason, will or desire, or any mental state or condition, are accompanied by vibrations, a portion of which are thrown off and which tend to affect the minds of other persons by “induction.” This is the principle which produces the phenomena of “telepathy”; mental influence, and other forms of the action and power of mind over mind, with which the general public is rapidly becoming acquainted, owing to the wide dissemination of occult knowledge by the various schools, cults and teachers along these lines at this time.  Every thought, emotion or mental state has its corresponding rate and mode of vibration. And by an effort of the will of the person, or of other persons, these mental states may be reproduced, just as a musical tone may be reproduced by causing an instrument to vibrate at a certain rate.  (http://www.sacred–

In this way, a curse will function by creating its vibration in the target, who will then radiate that vibration (usually without knowing it) into various aspects of his life.  All retribution and judgment begins with the Self or, as The Kybalion puts it in “The Principle of Mentalism,” “All is Mind.”

If the target, truly in the deep core of himself, believes he doesn’t deserve to suffer, he will resist the curse vibration on some level.  But, of course, to resist something is also to have a relationship with it.  This is how an unjustified curse can make mischief in the life of an innocent.  Essentially, by resisting, the innocent (consciously or unconsciously) accepts the reality of having to resist a curse and is then struggling against it and feeling some of its effects.  But those effects are usually short-lived, if still upsetting.

When the target has a damaged aura—i.e. a personality defect, a mental illness, a negative attachment, or an inner weakness—a curse will try to use that as a way to influence the target’s vibration, working through the place in his aura where it is harder for him to resist.  Magical workings (and curses are not exceptions to this) have a kind of intelligence to them—a guidance system that has caused some magicians to conclude that workings bring spirits to bear (whether the spirits are created, as with servitors and egregores  or simply attached to the work).

If a target has an unusually strong, resistant aura, a curse can be held at bay for a long time, sometimes even for decades, depending on the longevity of the curse and that of the target.  In the end, however, most curses will have to be dealt with somehow as only the weakest “blow over” on their own.  Legitimate curses (i.e. those not formed inadvertently through the psychic capacity of someone feeling extreme anger or hatred for another) can be complex works of magic with many contingencies and resources involved.  Like all magic, cursing is an art and should be taken seriously by those who feel they have been cursed.

The best way I know to deal with a curse is to have a competent spiritual worker cleanse and protect you.  Using our Hermetic model, this would amount to a magician, sorcerer, conjure doctor, shaman, priest, or other practitioner performing work that raises your vibration above that of the curse, causing you to radiate a beneficial energy and heal yourself.  Just as someone can be influenced to vibrate negatively, he can be influenced in the opposite.

For those who know what they’re doing spiritually (and / or who many not want to pay someone else), here are some texts on magical protection: Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune, Protection and Reversal Magick by Jason Miller, Magickal Protection by Damon Brand, The Witch’s Shield by Christopher Penczack, and Practical Protection Magick by Ellen Dugan   I am a bit skeptical of the last two texts on this list, but everyone has a different experience with magical books and you might find any of these helpful.

The Will to Dominate Others

Many of us dislike using the term “forgiveness” because it has been weaponized by passive-aggressive Christianity. But yesterday I found myself talking about it when I received two more ill-advised requests for curses on non-compliant husbands.

First, I want to mention the value of divination in magical work. When someone comes to me for help in some kind of relationship, I don’t judge whether the other person is or isn’t acting right. I merely do a reading and the cards tell me whether sorcery is justified or not. It’s not up to me to decide, according to my own set of subjective values, whether someone deserves to be cursed, dominated, influenced, or crossed up.

In my own life I also take this approach, no matter how angry I happen to be at someone. In fact, I perform a divination before any magical work. It helps me fine-tune what I do. And it gives me insight into the sides of a situation I might not have noticed. I think this is a good habit to cultivate, especially for beginners who worry about “karmic return” or “blowback.” If you do a reading and ask your higher self (your HGA / that part of you that is Divinity / your patron deity) to tell you what you need to know about the situation, you are responsible for that knowledge. You are also free to act on it.

I personally like the poetic Golden Dawn tarot invocation: In the divine name IAO, I invoke Thee thou Great Angel HRU who art set over the operations of this Secret Wisdom. Lay thine hand invisibly on these consecrated cards of art, that thereby I may obtain true knowledge of hidden things, to the glory of the ineffable Name. Amen. The Angel HRU (pronounced hey-roo) is a very powerful companion during a tarot reading. Experiment with this and see how it feels.

That said, if you don’t know how to do a proper divination—one that will give you clarity on an issue—you shouldn’t be mucking about with magic yet. You should be learning how to cast circles, grounding, centering, banishing, and working on proficiency with the Runes or the tarot or the pendulum, etc. You should also be meditating. Those are the basics and if you don’t have them, you do risk messing yourself up with magic.

If you do these things regularly and you feel comfortable with divination, very good! But you still might not be ready for spell-work if the vast majority of workings you feel like doing involve curses, hexes, crossings, and domination. I’m not trying to moralize and certainly your choices are your own. But let’s talk about forgiveness for a moment.

Let’s pretend you’re an all-powerful deity. You have the power to make anything happen, bring anything into being, or erase anything from existence. Would you rather create more suffering or heal the world? If you see someone behaving like an asshole, wouldn’t it be better to change this person into a non-asshole than to vaporize her completely or torture her in revenge for her behavior? Remember, you’re all-powerful; you can do anything. Would you be a god of torment, murder, and darkness or a god of peace, enlightenment, and love?

Many beginning magical people, especially beginning witches, secretly want to be the dark god of torment because that seems more powerful. They feel so powerless that power is the only factor in their decisions—how to get some and how to avoid losing the tiny bit they have. This means they are fundamentally weak human beings, weak of character and metaphysically weak as well. They feel like they can’t afford to practice forgiveness or love.

On the other hand, someone who is genuinely strong is also generous. This person would become the god of enlightenment and love. Why? Because they’re not thinking like a scared animal. They have enough to spare, truly enough that they can offer some to others and not worry about it. They can do this and still keep their enemies at bay. They can practice forgiveness because they’re not obsessed with someone perceiving them as weak or taking advantage of their kindness. This is true nobility and it is actually very rare, especially among beginning magical people who often turn to the occult because they feel they have no other options in their lives.

This is why I recommend divination. Even if someone has a small petty nature, if they work with divination—especially before doing magic—they will be safe. They will not make their lives more of a mess. In the depths of fear and hatred, it can be hard to act confident. Animal nature takes over. We are dominated by scarcity thinking and defensive reactions.

That is precisely when we should be using a technique like tarot reading or Rune casting to check in with our higher selves, with the highest good. And we may find, after our sight clears, that we are even capable of being that god of love and enlightenment. We might realize that the healing power of forgiveness does not make us weak. Rather, it makes everyone stronger and better than they were. And that is not a bad thing at all.

The Due Diligence that Comes Before a Curse

Consider this hypothetical. Someone has harmed you in some way. Let’s say it’s serious. Maybe a loved one got hurt as a result of this person’s deliberate behavior or you have been professionally or financially ruined. Let’s also say that you’re not in any position to forgive the damage. In fact, you’re deeply angry because you know you have been treated unjustly. Someone made you into a victim. Maybe the guy was even enriched in the process. And there is no way you can prove it or otherwise force him, through any legal or otherwise mundane channel, to make you whole again.

But you know where he lives. So you’re faced with a dilemma. You have an untraceable handgun. And you know of a time when you can go over to his house and blow him away when he answers the door. There are no security cameras. The closest neighbor is miles away. He won’t be expecting you. And you’re smart and cool-headed enough to set up an alibi should the police come around asking questions after the body is found.

You think you can probably get away with it. But the dilemma rests in the fact that you like to consider yourself a decent person. You go out of your way to help people. Maybe you’re a devoted parent. You care about the world. You sincerely do your best at work and you try not to say a bad word about anyone. So you now have this parliamentary debate going on in your head. One voice says he deserves a bullet. Another voice counters that premeditated murder would make you as bad, if not worse, than your tormentor. And another somewhat cooler voice notes that committing a capital crime would also put your entire life and everything you care about at risk—even if, on the surface, it seems like you could get away with it.

But let’s also say you’re a practicing occultist who knows about curses. You know you could throw a curse on this guy strong enough to turn goat piss into gasoline. Suddenly, all the arguing voices of conscience are quiet. Curses are much harder to trace than bullets and can be just as lethal. But somehow cursing him doesn’t seem quite as bad as physically pulling the trigger. There is, after all, a certain unreality to magic that never goes away no matter how experienced you become—a degree of indeterminate “chaos stuff” that surrounds and interpenetrates one’s perception of a thing, making it subject to change in conformity with the magician’s will but also subject to uncertainty and doubt.* In a way, casting a psychodramatic curse seems less evil than murder. Because, after all, what if it doesn’t work? Let the gods decide! Or, if you’re feeling like a bit of self-honesty, let the gods take responsibility so you don’t have to feel bad when your enemy experiences living hell.

Still, you think, just to be sure, you might magically investigate this guy—just to feel more confident that he deserves every last morsel of agony before you start calling on Leviathan or Met Kalfou or Nemesis. You know this would be a good decision. And you’re right. You should get a reading done by an experienced practitioner (especially since your objectivity might be influenced by your emotions). But, of course, you can’t trust anyone with this secret. You’ll have to do your own due diligence, your own research.

So late one night, you step out of your body, using whatever ritual you’ve learned for this, and move backwards from the time he injured you—back down the timeline which, on the Astral Plane, you prefer to see as an old-fashioned tape reel with frames stretching backward to the dawn of time and forward to infinity.

You move backward along the timeline of this person, viewing his life and everything that led up to the moment he caused you harm. In so doing, you learn about his fears and the times he was a victim. You examine the structure of his desires like a circuit board of light woven throughout his being and you observe the anxieties that complemented those desires—some of them growing into sentient spiritual beings, his personal demons. Eventually, you witness his childhood, the good and the bad in it, the loss of innocence and the places where innocence still remains to this day.

When you step back into your body, you feel suffused with divine power, with the holiness of having exchanged so intimately with another person’s psyche. You know this person now. And the thought of sending some malevolent force to tear into him is as abhorrent as putting two in his chest.

Instead, you almost feel like thanking him—in recompense for the damage he did, according to urges and blindnesses in him that you now understand, he has given you the gift of insight. Maybe you will never get back what he took from you. You don’t ever have to forgive him or stop being angry. But maybe you should acknowledge that, even in the midst of your pain, you behaved ethically, doing the necessary magical investigation before calling down death and judgment. And that has advanced you spiritually, which is priceless.

So mote it be.

*In “Austin Osman Spare: An Introduction to his psycho-magical philosophy,” Kenneth Grant writes that Spare, the grandfather of contemporary art/chaos magic, termed this “chaos stuff” free belief, in the sense that “a quantity of belief or faith must be freed for activity in the latent depths so that profound and nostalgic stirrings of awareness cause a violent series of impacts which create a shock of identity. The resulting ecstasy incarnates the latent desire into patent actuality and power”